Kauai eliminates tier system; Hawaii counties continue to loosen COVID restrictions

Coronavirus

KAUAI (KHON2) — No more tiers. Kauai Mayor Derek Kawakami announced they are cleaning up loose ends by eliminating their tier system for a more flexible approach.

“Our tiered system was created before vaccines were available, and also before the delta variant became a real challenge. And so, at this point in our operation, the tier system has served its purpose. But it’s rather obsolete at this point in time,” explained Mayor Kawakami.

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The tier system was first implemented in October 2020. It set criteria for loosening and tightening restrictions on businesses and activities to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Now that cases have been decreasing statewide and vaccination rates are up, Mayor Kawakami said they no longer need it.

“What does that really mean for the people of Kauai, also people that are visiting Kauai? Not much,” he said.

Kauai still falls under state guidelines requiring masks indoors, as well as capping gatherings inside at 10 people and outside at 25. But they have been allowing some activities prohibited in other counties.

“We’ve had organized youth sports, as well as senior softball, take place from June 1, 2020, with spectators,” he explained.

Kauai County has also allowed weddings and professionally organized events for up to 40 people indoors and 100 outdoors.

“But if they plan on exceeding that capacity, then that’s where the county asks for them to do additional safety measures, such as checking for vaccination and/or negative test results,” Mayor Kawakami added.

For the future, Mayor Kawakami said they will continue to listen to what the health and science experts tell them and will adjust accordingly. Mayor Rick Blangiardi also eliminated Honolulu’s tier system, opting for what he deemed a more flexible approach. Click here to look at current guidelines.

Though Maui County did not have a tier system, early in the pandemic they created ‘COVID-19 Management Levels,’ which included ‘Stay at Home,’ ‘Safer at Home,’ and ‘Act with Care.’ They are currently operating under their ‘Safer Outdoors” guidelines,’ with updates taking effect Saturday, Oct. 16.

Here is a list of Maui’s ‘Safer Outdoors’ updated guidelines:

  • Increasing social gatherings to 10 indoors and 25 outdoors
  • Extending closing time for bars and restaurants to midnight
  • Allowing up to 10 guests per table and to allow unvaccinated patrons with a recent (within 48 hours) negative COVID test to dine indoors
  • Allowing spectators at outdoor organized sports events with groups limited to 25 people (not including Maui Interscholastic League or DOE sports)
  • Allowing spectators at indoor organized sports events with groups limited to 10 people (not MIL or DOE sports)
  • All sports participants, coaches, instructors, staff and spectators must wear face covering at all times

The Big Island never had a tiered system. But a spokesperson for Hawaii County said they put a request for Gov. David Ige to loosen social gathering limits currently set at 10 indoors and 10 outdoors, to 10 indoors and 25 outdoors like the rest of the state.

Find more COVID-19 news: cases, vaccinations on our Coronavirus News page

“I think the mayors have it right,” Lt. Gov. Josh Green said. “They are gradually reducing the restrictions, but I think we could be a little bit bolder on outdoor restrictions because you’re just not seeing any transmission outdoors anywhere.”

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