The state’s much-anticipated pre-travel COVID-19 testing program will be delayed for at least a month, and Oahu residents will be prohibited from gathering in groups of more than five.
Those are among the new coronavirus restrictions starting Thursday that were announced today by Gov. David Ige and Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell.
In making their announcement at a virtual news conference, Ige and Caldwell fell short of imposing a full lockdown on the island of Oahu, where cases have been surging for weeks.
“We’ve been struggling over the past four or five days on whether we use a scalpel or a hammer to attack the spiking of COVID-19 on the island of Oahu. But we’ve chosen the scalpel for now,” Caldwell said.
“Effective tomorrow at midnight for 28 days there can be no social gatherings indoors or outdoors on the island of Oahu,” Caldwell said. “The requirement is that if you can work from home, we want you to work form home.”
The following restrictions will be in place starting at 12:01 a.m. Thursday, he said:
>> No parties larger than five in private or public setting.
>> Face coverings required in malls, whether the mall is enclosed or not.
>> For in-person spiritual services, face coverings are mandated at all times with no singing or wind instruments allowed.
>> Restaurants are limited to seating groups no larger than five people, down from 10.
>> All social gatherings at offices are prohibited.
Caldwell said outdoor attractions, recreational and commercial boating activities and water parks will remain open for groups of no more than five people.
Beaches, parks, hiking trails and bars remain closed, he added.
Ige had already delayed by a month the proposed program to allow passengers with approved negative COVID-19 tests taken within 72 hours of their trip to Hawaii to bypass the state’s mandatory 14-day self-quarantine for out-of-state passengers.
The program has been viewed as the beginning of the relaunch of Hawaii’s beleaguered tourism industry.
Now, the program, Ige said this afternoon, will not start until Oct. 1 at the earliest.
“We will continue to monitor the conditions here in Hawaii as well as key markets on the mainland to determine the appropriate start date for the pre-travel testing program,” he said.
Ige added that an announcement on the new start date will offer plenty of notice to the hospitality industry so that it has enough time to staff up.
The neighbor island quarantine program remains in affect, he said.