Mayor Kirk Caldwell on Thursday said Oahu was on track to move to the next level of economic reopening in two weeks, but that residents need to remain vigilant to make it happen.
Caldwell said the countdown began Thursday, and that if the seven-day average of new cases and the average of positivity rates continued to meet required metrics for another two weeks, then Honolulu would move on Oct. 22 to Tier 2 restrictions, which are more relaxed than Tier 1, which Oahu is currently under.
On Thursday the county recorded 86 new coronavirus cases out of the 101 reported in Hawaii, bringing the statewide total since the start of the pandemic to 13,146. The 7-day average of daily cases for Oahu stood at 71, and the seven-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 news conference in front of Honolulu Hale on Thursday afternoon. “We’re doing good as we open up.”
Under Tier 2, which requires that Oahu’s new coronavirus cases remain below 100, and that positivity rates remain below 5%, restaurants would be allowed to serve up to five individuals not necessarily from the same household to dine at the same table.
Under Tier 1, only a maximum of five individuals from the same household may dine together.
Gyms and fitness facilities, currently allowed to operate outdoors only, would be allowed to open indoors at 25% capacity. Arcades would be allowed to reopen at 25% capacity. Legal, short-term rentals, closed under Tier 1, would be allowed under Tier 2.
Updates will be provided every Thursday on digital signs in front of Honolulu Hale as well as on Oahu freeways to let residents know where the island stands.
Caldwell, however, warned that residents cannot let their guard down, particularly with out-of-state visitors expected to return under a pre-travel testing program set to begin next week.
Caldwell said, “All systems are go” for the pre-travel testing program to begin on Thursday. Although he, along with neighbor isle mayors, would like visitors to undergo a second test after their arrival. 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 6 feet of physical distancing, avoid congregating, and keep washing hands, as recently advised by Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert.
It will be up to Honolulu residents to help Oahu get to Tier 2, Caldwell 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 continued. “It’s everywhere. It’s in the Rose Garden of the White House infecting top government leaders. It’s in the 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.”
City officials announced Thursday morning that two employees had tested positive for COVID-19 at the Kapolei Hale Department of Planning and Permitting. Separately on Monday, the city said a Kapolei Satellite City Hall customer service representative had contracted the coronavirus.
The 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, and contact tracing is underway, with about 80% of contacts already traced. The offices are temporarily closed.
As of Thursday, Caldwell said eight employees from those two venues remained 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 now does not recommend traditional trick-or-treating activities such as going house to house for treats during Halloween. He had previously said it would be allowed for groups up to 5 under Tier 1 guidelines, but said it was better to celebrate with activities within the family unit.