Mayor Kirk Caldwell today said he was feeling optimistic about being able to move on to Tier 2 of Honolulu’s COVID-19 Recovery Framework in another two weeks.
Caldwell said starting today, if the seven-day average and positivity rate continue to meet required metrics for another two weeks, then Honolulu will move to Tier 2 restrictions on Oct. 22, which are more relaxed than Tier 1, which Honolulu is currently under.
Updates will be provided every Thursday on digital signs in front of Honolulu Hale as well as on the freeways of Oahu to let residents know where the island stands.
Today, Oahu recorded 86 new coronavirus cases. The 7-day average of daily cases currently stands at 71, and the 7-day positivity rate at 3.1%.
“I believe the results, while they could be a little lower in my mind, are good,” said Caldwell, during a new conference in front of Honolulu Hale today. “We’re doing good as we open up.”
Under Tier 2, which requires that Oahu’s new coronavirus cases remain between 50 to 100, and that positivity rates remain between 2.5 to 5%, restaurants would be able to allow up to five individuals not necessarily from the same household to dine at the same table. Currently, under Tier 1, only up to five from the same household may share a table and dine together.
Group fitness classes would once again be allowed, with up to 10 people outdoors and five indoors, and gyms, now only allowed to operate outdoors, would be allowed to open indoors at 25% capacity. Legal, short-term rentals, closed under Tier 1, would be allowed under Tier 2.
Caldwell, however, warned that residents can not let their guard down, particularly with visitors expected to return under a pre-travel testing program next week.
Caldwell said as far as he knows, “all systems are go” for the pre-travel testing program to begin on Oct. 15. Although he, along with neighbor isle mayors, support a second test for the visitors after their arrival to Hawaii, Caldwell said he would not be opting out of the program.
“We cannot let our guards down as visitors come back to celebrate life here,” he said.
Residents need to keep wearing masks where required, maintain six feet of physical distancing, avoid congregating, and observe all rules.
It will be up to Honolulu residents to help Oahu get to Tier 2, he said.
“The administration can’t be everywhere reminding everyone and the Honolulu Police Department can’t be everywhere, enforcing.” said Caldwell. “They’re doing a lot more warning and less citing and hopefully that’s helping too.”
“One thing we all know, the virus is everywhere,” he said. “I’s everywhere. It’s in the Rose Garden of the White House infecting top government leaders. It’s in UH football team even though they get tested on a regular basis. It’s at our satellite city hall at Kapolei, in our DPP, permitting center out there. It’s not going to go away.”
Today, city officials announced that two Department of Planning and Permitting employees had tested positive for COVID-19 at the Kapolei Hale permit center, following news on Monday that a customer service representative at Kapolei Satellite City Hall had contracted the coronavirus.
Both offices are located next to one another on the ground floor of Kapolei Hale, Caldwell said. Where the spread of the coronavirus occurred remains unknown, he said, and contact tracing is underway, with about 80% of contacts already traced.
As of today, he said eight employees from those two venues remain in quarantine.
Caldwell said visitors would be held to the same rules while visiting Oahu, and that his staff has reached out to the visitor industry to remind them of the rules.
“We will enforce equally among everybody,” said Caldwell. “We won’t give visitors a pass.”
Caldwell also said, based on advice from the state Health Department, he did not recommend traditional trick-or-treating activities during Halloween. He had previously said it would be allowed for groups up to 5 under Tier 1 guidelines.
“Hopefully we’ll be in Tier 2 by then,” he said.
Watch the press conference via the video above, or go to Caldwell’s Facebook page.