Kauai Mayor Derek Kawakami Wednesday announced a nighttime curfew for that island for all but select groups such as delivery drivers, essential workers or people commuting to work, and people seeking medical attention.
And in a dramatic declaration to tourists Kawakami declared, “Kauai is on vacation!”
The curfew will run from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. each day, and take effect Friday.
“Every individual within the County of Kauai must remain in their residence during these specified hours” under the new emergency rule or risk penalties of up to a $5,000 fine and a year in jail, according to a statement from the county.
Kawakami said the Kauai curfew is designed to protect existing resources, manage the spread of COVID-19 by increasing social distancing, and ensure that essential services and family care can continue.
Airline travel to and from Kauai should be limited to essential needs, and the vacation industry should not be marketing Kauai as a destination at the moment, Kawakami said in a statement. “Until further notice, visitors should not be traveling to our island for recreational purposes.”
“We understand that these measures will result in hardships for many of our business owners and residents,” Kawakami said in a statement. “But the longer it takes us to make these drastic decisions, the longer it will take us to get to a point of economic recovery.”
On the Big Island, just hours after Gov. David Ige directed all bars to close and restaurants to shift to take-out operations to prevent the spread of coronavirus, Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim announced that bar and restaurant owners are actually free to keep their businesses open if they choose.
In a message released by Hawaii County Civil Defense on Tuesday evening, Kim announced that Ige’s instructions “acted as a guide for all Counties. Within this county the restaurants, bars, and places of worship may make their own decision as to open or close.”
“If restaurants, bars, and places of worship decide to remain open, do address how you will minimize the risk to your customers,” Kim wrote in the Civil Defense message. “This is of assurance of the cleanliness of the facility and of social distancing.”
On Tuesday, Ige “strongly encouraged” tourists to delay their trips to Hawaii, announced the screening of all arriving passengers, and directed that “all bars and clubs should be closed” to avoid gatherings of more than 10 people. He also said restaurants should stop serving diners on their premises, and should shift to take-out operations.
“We are directing bars to close. We do believe that opportunities for individuals to gather can be opportunities to spread the virus, so we want all gatherings of more than 10 individuals to stop,” Ige told reporters.
When asked what would happen if businesses refuse to comply, Ige replied: “We are asking for the community’s participation and support. Obviously, if someone chooses to disobey the orders, then we’ll deal with it appropriately.”
The state Department of Health clarified Wednesday that “while these are not mandates with consequences for non-compliance, these directives require the cooperation of businesses, organizations and individuals to be effective from a public health perspective.”
“We can be more effective in mitigating the spread of COVID-19 if everyone takes these aggressive actions seriously,” said state Director of Health Bruce Anderson in a statement.
Kim said in an interview Wednesday that he is “hopefully not” charting a different course from the state on the issue of closing bars and curbing service at restaurants. “Definitely, definitely we don’t want to present an independent role or differing role or countering role because that would be more destructive than anything else,” he said.
But Kim also said that “we have different problems here.”
“The first thing you find out is there are approximately 8,000 tourists here on any given day,” Kim said. Other islands may have far more visitors, “but you have different problems, like where are they going to eat?”
He also worried that the rush on food and other supplies at local stores would be aggravated, and “we’re trying to find ways to account for food for people who need it and can provide it because we have such separated communities” on Hawaii island.
“The easiest thing for me to do is to close everything. My responsibilities become so minimal,” Kim said.
On Maui, Mayor Michael Victorino announced new rules that take effect Friday morning that require restaurants and cafes that serve food on the premises to close, but allow take-out and delivery service. Bars, nightclubs, theaters, tourist attractions, and other venues where the public gathers must remain closed.
“Maui County is on pandemic lockdown and we’re telling all visitors to reconsider their travel to the islands during this emergency. Please help us to keep our communities safe and minimize the spread of the coronavirus,” Victorino said in a statement.
The new Maui rules also require that all stores selling essential goods provide dedicated shopping hours for people over 60 or people with medical conditions that put them at higher risk for catching the virus. Some stores are already offering kupuna shopping times.