Residents and businesses frustrated by possible return of COVID-19 restrictions

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) — With no sign of the COVID-19 case numbers letting up, there’s renewed concern that restrictions may be put back in place. That’s leading to frustration among businesses and families who don’t want a repeat of last year.

The mayors with the governor had their weekly meeting and among the topics they wanted to discuss was the possibility of lowering the limit of social gatherings.

Officials say most of the COVID-19 infections have been community spread from social gatherings. Outdoor gatherings can be restricted from 75 people to 25. Indoor gathering can be knocked down from 25 to 10 people.

“Yeah we’re kind of bummed and kind of irritated a little bit at the same time,” said Roger Cabral, a Hawaii Kai resident.

“It’s really hard,” said Steven Yamamoto, a Manoa resident. “We suffered for about a year and a half and to have to go back to this level of restriction. It’s really pretty hard. If we don’t do what’s right, we have to do the right thing.”

Many businesses are just beginning to bounce back. There’s concern that the new restrictions will also limit their capacity in the weeks and months ahead. The problem for caterers and wedding businesses is that they have reservations that far ahead.

“Events have been planned and if these restrictions take effect, what they will need to do to adjust to those numbers, or even canceling events,” said Sherry Menor-McNamara, Chamber of Commerce Hawaii president.

She adds that even if the restrictions are just applied to social gatherings that will have an indirect effect on many local businesses.

State officials also talked about making changes to the Safe Travels Program. Maj. Gen. Kenneth Hara told the Senate Special Committee on COVID-19 on Thursday that there are discussions on doing away with the vaccine exception and only allowing the 72-hour pre-test for travelers to avoid having to undergo quarantine.

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But the state sent us a statement Friday saying there is no imminent decision to reinstate the 72-hour pre-test. As far as COVID-19 spread from travel, “The vast majority are returning residents that opt not to take a pre-test and elect to stay in travel quarantine. We would not reduce COVID positives in travel, as intended by reinstating the 72-hour pre-test.”

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