Neighbor islands pushing for more restrictions as COVID cases soar

Coronavirus

WAILUKU, Maui (KHON2) — Neighbor island officials are concerned as coronavirus cases increase. Here’s what you need to know if you live on or plan to travel to the neighbor islands.

The situation is dire as COVID cases soar. County mayors are taking action urging residents to do their part.

Get Hawaii’s latest morning news delivered to your inbox, sign up for News 2 You

Maui County Deputy Managing Director Josiah Nishita said the mayor is pleading with people to voluntarily stay home.

“Mayor is asking residents and visitors to Maui County to voluntarily curb nonessential activities for 21 days,” Nishita said. “We really need our community to voluntarily step up to help us protect our children, our elderly and those with preexisting medical conditions.”

Nishita said Mayor Mike Victorino also wants employers to reinstate work-from-home during that time and visitors to avoid leaving their hotels.

“To all of our visitors, our residents need your help as well in controlling the spread within our community and reducing the strain on our hospitals,” Nishita explained.

Maui has seen 85 average daily cases in the last two weeks with a 7.4% positivity rate.

Hawaii County Mayor Mitch Roth said he wants to crack down on beach gatherings to slow the spread of COVID.

“We’re looking at taking away the ability to have tents and other things to hang out under and making sure that the group sizes are less than 10 and keeping them separated,” Roth said. “We want people swimming and exercising, but we just don’t want them packed in and congregating like sardines.”

He’s also looking at an easier way of post-arrival testing, like what’s being done in other areas.

“They’re giving test kits to their passengers where they self test, then send them in by mail,” Roth explained.

“We’d like to go back to the way we did it before ’cause we could see people getting off of planes,” he said, “but because of the cost, the inconvenience of airport and because of the lack of staffing, it makes it very difficult at this time to do that.”

Roth also wants to beef up enforcement to ensure people are following the rules.

The Big Island continues to get hammered by the delta variant. The island has seen an average of 128 new cases a day in the past two weeks, with an 8.4% positivity rate. Roth said hospitals are overwhelmed — and something has to give.

“We know this is something we can conquer, we just need to act responsibly,” Roth said.

Kauai’s also seen an uptick in cases but not as severe as the other counties. The island has seen an average of 25 new cases daily over a two-week period. Their positivity rate is 4.8%.

Kauai County Mayor Derek Kawakami isn’t asking for more restrictions yet. He’s giving his community a chance to step up.

“We should not need government restrictions by now if we can all pull together, and the reason why we’re going this route is Kauai has done it before,” he said.

Gatherings are currently limited to 10 people indoors and 25 outdoors in every county. Restaurant capacity should not exceed 50% and guests must remain six feet apart.

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

Trans-Pacific travelers must show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test 72 hours prior to arriving in the state to avoid quarantine. There are currently no restrictions or requirements for travel between the islands.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

More Hawaii News

More Local News

Trending Stories