HONOLULU (KHON2) — It is the least restrictive COVID guidance released to date from the CDC, and the Hawaii Department of Health taking similar steps. After more than two years of staying at least six feet apart from others, health officials said that may not be as necessary anymore. 

State Epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Kemble said the state has been stepping away from social-distancing guidance as a way to mitigate the spread of the virus.

Download the free KHON2 app for iOS or Android to stay informed on the latest news

Kemble said, “We understand that there are many layered mitigation strategies that can reduce your risk of COVID-19 distancing is not the only one. In some situations. It’s not the most practical way to protect yourself.” 

Other changes include dropping the quarantine requirements for those who come into close contact with a person who tested positive for COVID. 

People who came in close contact with a COVID positive person and remain without symptoms no longer need to stay home for five days, this also includes students. The state is dropping a “test-to-stay” in the classroom procedure for students who may have come in close contact with a COVID positive person outside of campus. 

“Dropping quarantine and community settings is something we want to implement right away,” Kemble said. “I do understand that it may take a little while for both for us to get all of our guidance updated on our website, and for schools to incorporate the latest recommendations into their protocols.”

The DOH said it could be a slow process for certain people to let go of some COVID guidance. The Retail Merchants of Hawaii President Tina Yamaki said many businesses are choosing to keep the plexiglass barriers between customers and employees, as well as wearing face coverings. 

Yamaki said, “We are still seeing the plexiglass staying up in a lot of stores because it makes you know our employees feel more comfortable you know and that’s what it is about, too. Make sure that not only our customers feel safe in our stores but our employees as well.”

Meanwhile, city services like the driver licensing centers will continue to operate by appointment, this change was made due to the pandemic but it is now sticking around mainly to streamline the process. 

Satellite city halls and driver licensing centers have been following the city’s established guidelines, which have placed less of an emphasis on social distancing since March 2022. However, satellite city halls and driver licensing centers will continue for the foreseeable future to recommend appointments for in-person service.”

“This practice has allowed satellite city halls and driver licensing centers to significantly reduce the number of people in their offices at any given time. The appointment system at satellite city halls and driver licensing centers has also allowed us to better manage the flow of people coming to our offices, which is critical to our efforts to improve the customer experience during in-person visits to our locations.”

City’s Department of Customer Services Director, Kim Hashiro

The DOH said masks are still a good way to protect against the virus, and anyone feeling sick or positive for COVID should continue to isolate themselves. 

Kemble said, “You actually want to isolate from when you first start having symptoms if they are consistent with COVID-19 while you’re getting your test done.”

Check out what’s going on around the nation on our National News page

More information on the state’s COVID guidance found, here.