Question: I would like clarification on the new restrictions on social gatherings in private residences. Does this mean that grandparents who do not live in the same household as their grandchildren are not allowed to babysit unless it is in a controlled environment, like a restaurant? Additionally, how does it work if separated adults share custody of a child? Is the child not allowed to live with one of the parents?
Answer: The answer to both of your questions is no, because the situations you describe aren’t social gatherings. You are describing child care, which is an essential activity not subject to the same restrictions.
This is spelled out in the definitions and exemptions section of Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s latest emergency order, which you can read at 808ne.ws/hnlord or find on the municipal government’s website, www. honolulu.gov.
Section II, Item A, No. 5, says that an individual may leave their residence “to care for a family member or pet in another household.”
This would apply because the grandparents were coming over to babysit, not to socialize. Similarly, a shared custody arrangement involves child care.
That said, and especially considering the grandparents, who may be older and therefore at higher risk of COVID-19 complications, the order urges “people at high risk of severe illness from COVID-19 … to stay in their residence to the extent possible” — but that’s a recommendation, not a requirement, when it comes to essential activities.
Q: I’m supposed to attend a funeral next week for a relative. Is the limit on mourners at five persons now, or is it still at 10?
A: 10. See Section II-F-23 of Honolulu County’s latest emergency order (link in previous question), which classifies funeral, mortuary, cremation, burial, cemetery and related professional services as essential businesses, provided that each event is “(a) limited to 10 individuals maximum (with members from different households/living units maintaining physical distance of at least six feet between each other at all times); (b) face coverings are worn consistent with Order 5; and (c) there is compliance with all other applicable Social Distancing Requirements.”
Q: One lingering question I have about mail-in voting is how do they maintain the fundamental principle of voters being able to cast a secret ballot, when the voter has to sign the return envelope? I didn’t vote in the primary because of this, but I want to vote in the general election.
A: The ballot return packet contains an unsigned ballot, inside an unsigned ballot secrecy sleeve, inside a return envelope signed by the voter. The state Office of Elections explains how the packet is handled once it arrives at the county clerk’s office:
“Ballots are opened in a multi-step process to ensure the secrecy of votes. First, return envelopes are opened and ballot secrecy sleeves are pulled out of the envelopes. The ballot secrecy sleeves are accumulated and separated from the envelopes. Once all the envelopes have been opened, they are removed from the work area. Next, ballots are removed from the ballot secrecy sleeves and accumulated for processing. Ballots and the secrecy sleeves do not have any personal identifying information on them and, as they are separated from the return envelopes, there is no way for a voter’s identity to be connected to a specific ballot.”
I have recently noticed a mainland visitor that neither quarantines or masks up, and I couldn’t be happier. The golden plovers are back from Alaska! Thanks, Mother Nature, for a little bit of normalcy in these disruptive times. — David Wagner, Honolulu
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