Gov. David Ige said he agrees with Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell that Oahu bars should be shut down for three weeks to stem the spread of COVID-19 as Hawaii recorded its highest number of COVID-19 infections to date.
While the governor has yet to officially approve Caldwell’s request to temporarily close bars, the Department of Health is also supporting the proposal, the mayor said. The state reported 109 new daily cases of COVID-19 today — the highest ever daily count since the pandemic reached in the islands in February.
“We want to get (the proposal approved and) back as soon as possible so we can implement it. This is a harsh thing to do and I feel troubled by the fact we’re taking such action,” Caldwell said, adding that restaurants would also have to stop all sales and consumption of alcohol by 10 p.m. “To take less risks we want to shut down bars and focus to make sure when we reopen, we can be more strategic in how we target those not acting appropriately.”
The governor and mayor both held news conferences this afternoon stressing the importance of mask wearing and social distancing and said they are looking to limit gatherings to no more than 10.
To that end, Caldwell is considering banning tents in parks to discourage large gatherings.
“It sounds like a harsh thing to do, but we already have mandates in place that control gathering sizes … yet we see pod sizes are not being followed,” he said. “Every Saturday and Sunday to me it feels like it’s the Fourth of July — lots of tents, thousands of people gathered together under tents with no face coverings.”
The mayor said he is taking a second look after meeting with health officials on his recommendation to mandate the wearing of masks even while exercising outside because there’s no “medical reason to justify wearing face coverings” if people are far apart.
“We’re at a real crossroads here, and the challenge is for everybody. It’s not what the government is going to do, but it’s what all of us are going to do to stem this tide,” Caldwell said. “We have huge challenges. We don’t want to go back to where we were in March.”