Mayors want smaller gatherings to slow COVID spread but with minimal impact on businesses


HONOLULU (KHON2) — Restrictions on social gatherings will likely be re-instated as state and county leaders look to slow down the surge of COVID-19 cases. Officials say the plan is to be more strategic, with less disruption to local businesses.

After meeting with Gov. David Ige on Friday, the mayors say it’s clear that more has to be done to slow the spread of coronavirus. However, they don’t want restrictions to have as much impact on local businesses.

“And so now, we’re trying to use data as far as where these clusters are popping up and seeing where we can make adjustments,” said Kauai Mayor Derek Kawakami.

He says they want to focus on casual gatherings and limit them to 25 outdoors and 10 indoors.

“Our hospitals right now are asking. They are begging for help. We have to make sure that they are okay,” said Hawaii County Mayor Mitch Roth.

He’s pleading for those unvaccinated to get the shot, or at least act more responsibly and avoid gatherings and wear a mask. Otherwise he says, there could restrictions beyond smaller gatherings.

“We don’t want to get back to that place. We need to do everything we can to make sure that not only our kupuna are being safe, but our keiki are safe as well,” said Roth.

Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi sent a statement saying, “I would prefer to not impose further restrictions, but we need to get a buy-in from the vaccine holdouts.”

It will ultimately be up to the governor to decide exactly what restrictions to impose. He sent a statement saying the delta variant is a game changer. He and the mayors plan to make changes soon to slow the spread of the virus.

Officials also want to stress the importance of testing for those who suspect they may have been infected. The health department says there are many sites offering free tests. Click here, then go to the Health Information, then to Testing Isolation and Quarantine. When you put your zip code in, a list of pharmacies will pop up that offer free COVID-19 testing.

“If you know you were exposed to somebody who is positive, and you’ve got that question in your mind, ‘Do I have it or not?’ You don’t want to spread it any further,” said Brooks Baehr, DOH spokesman. “Absolutely go out, get yourself tested. Get that peace of mind.”

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