Gov. David Ige announced today that he would allow the counties to make their own pandemic emergency orders and rules starting next month.
Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi followed the governor’s announcement by saying he would relax the 6-foot social distancing rule for Oahu restaurants so that they can operate at full capacity.
In a news conference with the county mayors this afternoon, Ige announced that some existing COVID-19 restrictions will remain in place, while a new emergency proclamation to be signed Monday will implement additional changes.
“We feel comfortable at this point in time to relax some of the restrictions,” Ige said. “… We are at a better place than three months ago, but we are still not finished with the pandemic.”
According to the proclamation, there will be no changes to the state’s Safe Travels program, indoor mask mandate, vaccination or testing requirements for state and county employees along with vaccination or testing requirements for contractors and visitors to state facilities.
Ige said he plans to sign another emergency proclamation Nov. 29, which will be in effect through Jan. 28, 2022, unless terminated or superseded by a separate proclamation:
>> Starting Dec. 1, counties will no longer need to obtain approval of the governor or Hawaii Emergency Management Agency’s director prior to issuing county emergency orders, rules or proclamations. Meanwhile, HI-EMA will continue its various support functions and the state Department of Health will continue to issue public health guidance.
>> Statewide limits for social gatherings, restaurants, bars, social establishments and gyms will end Dec. 1. “The counties will implement appropriate measures for social gatherings, restaurant operations, social establishments and other venues within their own counties,” according to the proclamation.
>> Extensions for driver’s license renewals, instruction permits and replacements end on Nov. 29;
>> The state will no longer offer exemption to the 10-day travel quarantine to critical infrastructure workers, while individuals who previously tested positive for COVID-19 and other exemptions will be considered.
Ige said activity is expected to increase during the holidays, and encouraged everyone to continue to use common sense. Hawaii’s virus activity is still substantial, he said.
“We do know when we’re averaging 100 per day that if we let our guard down, it would not take a whole lot to see that escalate very rapidly,” he said.
The state’s health care system, however, has recovered from the impacts of the delta surge over the summer.
“We are seeing the number of COVID patients in our hospitals return to the pre-surge numbers,” he said, “so we know hospitals still continue to be rather full with regular patients, but we don’t see and we don’t believe that the current virus cases would be a huge overwhelming concern.”
Gov. David Ige, Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi, Maui Mayor Michael Victorino, Hawaii County Mayor Mitch Roth, Queen’s Health Systems president and chief operating officer Jason Chang and Hawaii Restaurant Association’s Greg Maples are holding a joint press conference to discuss updates to the emergency proclamation related to the state’s response to COVID-19. The livestream is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m.
Earlier, Blangiardi announced loosened restrictions for Oahu including lifting capacity requirements for all large events.
Watch the livestream video above.
Editor’s Note: This story is developing and will be updated as soon as more information becomes available.