The number of calls and emails to the city’s special COVID-19 call center jumped to nearly 800 as people continued to figure out what they can and cannot do under new rules that went into effect this week across Oahu.
The call center phone number — 768-CITY (2489) — and email address — covidresponse @honolulu.gov — are staffed Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. They usually get 500 to 600 inquires per day.
But the number jumped to nearly 800 on Thursday as people sought clarification of Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s new rules that went into effect for a 28-day period that began Wednesday.
“We’ve definitely seen an uptick in the number of calls and emails,” said Molly Pierce, communication and information manager for the city’s Office of Economic Revitalization, which oversees the call center. “They’re reaching out for information.”
Caldwell’s new rules generally ban all indoor and outdoor gatherings — in public, in private and at home.
But there are many exceptions:
“You’re allowed to be together with members of your household,” city spokesman Alexander Zannes told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser on Friday. “You’re not allowed to go to another household for a social gathering.”
Despite prior confusion, there is no limit on the number of people from the same household who can gather at home — which has been a common question to the city’s call center, Zannes said.
“The answer is you continue living as you’ve always been living,” Zannes said. “You don’t have to kick anyone out of your house.”
“If your household’s three (members), then your household is three,” Pierce said Friday. “If your household’s 13, then your household is 13. Your household is your bubble.”
But that means that even family members who live in different homes are not allowed to visit, even just to come into the yard, Pierce said.
“You give them a hug,” she said. “We are unfortunately seeing folks are accidentally spreading COVID with people they feel are safe in their lives.”
There are also exceptions for nonfamily visits for essential services such as child care, health care and deliveries of food and medical supplies, Zannes said.
>> Long-term visitors can come into a home as long as they are arriving from the mainland and remain in place for the statewide, 14-day quarantine, Zannes said.
>> “In-person spiritual services” have no attendance limits to accommodate constitutional guarantees of religious freedom. But a family unit must stay together during a service and family members are not allowed to interact with other attendees and maintain 6 feet of distance from nonfamily members. Caldwell’s order urges caution for singing and the playing of wind instruments.
Zannes on Friday said that Caldwell met with an unspecified number of religious leaders via Zoom this week and they agreed to temporarily postpone services for the next few weeks to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.
>> Funerals and burials can have as many as 10 people. Mourners should wear masks and maintain social distances from nonfamily members.
>> Large families can eat at dine-in restaurants but will be limited to tables of no more than five. Other family members will be required to sit at separate tables that are socially distanced.
>> Employees are not allowed to eat together at work, where hygiene rules could be less stringent. And all workplace “social gatherings” are prohibited, although groups of five co-workers are allowed to eat at dine-in restaurants, where mask- wearing and social distancing are presumed to be more stringent, Zannes said.
>> County and state beach parks remain off-limits on Oahu, but people are allowed to cross through beach parks to engage in ocean activities. Fishing is restricted to groups of two.
>> State and county trails also remain closed on Oahu, along with a ban on hiking on undeveloped county and state lands.
Under Gov. David Ige’s previous, statewide order:
>> Neighbor island-based passengers returning home from Oahu are required to follow 14-day quarantine rules in their neighbor island homes, out of concerns they may have contracted COVID-19 on Oahu. However, Oahu-based passengers returning from neighbor island trips face no quarantine on Oahu, out of the assumption that they are less likely to contract COVID-19 on the neighbor islands, Zannes said.
“The recently signed ‘Act now Honolulu-No Social Gatherings’ order is meant to limit social gatherings in uncontrolled settings, while still allowing people to take care of their family members, or provide childcare,” Zannes wrote in an email to the Star-Advertiser. “With the current level of virus transmission on Oahu, any social gathering carries with it a risk of transmission of COVID-19.”
EXCEPTIONS TO THE RULE
Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s new rules to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 on Oahu ban all indoor and outdoor gatherings — in public, private and at home — for 28 days starting three days ago. But there are many exceptions.
>> No attendance limits.
>> Families must stay together and not interact with non-family members.
>> There is no limit on the number of people from the same household who can gather in their own home.
>> Family members who live in a different home are not allowed to visit.
Exceptions are for child care, health care and deliveries of food and medical supplies.
FUNERALS AND BURIALS
>> Limited to 10 mourners.
>> Employees not allowed to eat together in the work place.
>> No workplace “social gatherings” allowed, although groups of five co-workers allowed at dine-in restaurants.
>> Limited to tables of five.
>> Large families also may dine in but must sit at different tables, socially distanced apart.
BEACH PARKS, PUBLIC LANDS
>> County and state beach parks remain off-limits on Oahu, but people allowed to cross beach parks to engage in ocean activities.
>> Fishing limited to groups of two.
>> Hiking not allowed on state and county trails and undeveloped state and county lands on Oahu.
Source: City and County of Honolulu
FOR MORE INFORMATION ON NEW ORDERS
>> To view answers to frequently asked questions about Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s latest COVID-19 order, visit oneoahu.org/faqs
>> To read Caldwell’s order, visit honolulu.gov/rep/site/may/may_docs/Emergency_Order_No._2020-24.pdf
>> To read Caldwell’s tweet of a chart on what’s allowed and not allowed, visit bit.ly/3hixTsg