Hawaii’s three neighbor island mayors today separately announced the relaxing of some COVID-19 restrictions effective Wednesday.
Their actions follow Gov. David Ige’s latest emergency proclamation signed Monday granting the counties the authority to make their own pandemic emergency orders and rules without prior approval by the governor or the director of the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency.
However, under Ige’s order, the statewide indoor masking mandate and the Safe Travels program remain in effect until at least Jan. 28. Safe Travels requires travelers from out of state to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test no more than 72 hours prior to entering Hawaii or submit to a 10-day quarantine.
Ige also lifted statewide capacity limits on social gatherings, restaurants, bars, gyms and other establishments.
Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi already announced that effective Wednesday, the city would be dropping all capacity restrictions for restaurants, social gatherings and gyms. Large events also would be allowed at full capacity, with food and beverages, but would still be subject to the Safe Access O‘ahu program, which requires entrants to provide proof of full vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test within the past 48 hours.
The neighbor island mayors are following suit, for the most part, but with different rules for social and commercial gatherings.
Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino is lifting all outdoor restrictions as an expansion of Maui County’s Safer Outdoors initiative. However, indoor, noncommercial social gatherings are limited to up to 10 persons. Indoor commercial events planned for more than 75 participants will still need to obtain an exemption from the county.
According to state Department of Health data, Maui County had a seven-day average of 15 new cases a day and a 2.0% test positivity rate as of Tuesday. Sixty-four percent of the county’s population is fully vaccinated.
“We are able to relax these restrictions because the people of Maui County have been mindful of the health and safety of others,” Victorino said in a news release. “With our low positivity rate and the ability to conduct outdoor activities in a safe manner, we feel comfortable loosening these restrictions. At the same time, we are aware of the new Omicron variant and are actively monitoring developments. We will continue to act thoughtfully according to the advice of medical experts.”
Hawaii island Mayor Mitch Roth is prohibiting indoor social gatherings of more than 25 people and outdoor gatherings of more than 100. Gatherings include concerts, festivals, funerals, parties and weddings. Special event requests detailing COVID-19 mitigation measures will still be required for gatherings larger than the allowed limits, indoors or out.
The county has a seven-day average of 11 new cases per day and a test positivity rate of 2.3%, with 63% of its population fully vaccinated, according to DOH.
“There is still much uncertainty in how the virus will continue to mutate, and we encourage all our residents not to let their guard down,” Roth said in a news release. “So long as everyone follows the rules and remains mindful of their neighbors, we will be able to continue easing restrictions and reopen with a measured approach. Vaccines remain our best defense against COVID-19, and we ask that everyone who hasn’t gotten their vaccine or booster, but would like to, do so as soon as possible.”
On Kauai, Mayor Derek Kawakami increased social gathering limits to 40 people indoors and 100 outdoors. Any event over the gathering limit requires an event organizer tasked with ensuring all attendees are either fully vaccinated or have proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 24 hours of the start of the event.
Event coordinators are no longer required to register event information on the Kauai Emergency Management Agency website, however, they are responsible for maintaining contact information for all attendees in the event the Department of Health needs that information for contact tracing efforts.
Kauai’s seven-day average of new cases is 15, and its test positivity rate is 3.6%. DOH says 68% of the island’s residents are fully vaccinated.