Updated 8/28/21. The Hawaii Health Department today reported another staggering 938 new Covid cases and 5 additional deaths. That came following yesterday’s highest ever 1,035 new Covid cases and 9 deaths. Of today’s, once again almost 700 were on Oahu. As a result of this continued explosion of cases, there are more changes afoot that you should be aware of. Below we’ve detailed what those are and which things are being considered in the event things get worse, both statewide and island by island.
Officials want the ability to restrict activity further as needed and are planning accordingly. Governor Ige has also said that more mandates are on the table while not stating exactly what those might be. He indicated, however, that if “we push the hospitals across that line, then we will have to go to more extreme measures, lockdowns and potentially shutting businesses.”
Could a shutdown happen?
Governor Ige said this week that he does not want to see that happen. And this time even if it did occur, it might well be different than last time. We just don’t know. Scott Miscovich, who is a state advisor on Covid, has just said he believes a four-week shutdown should occur to slow the current spread.
We continue to hear, however, that it is unlikely that anything can be done to stop visitors from arriving or residents from traveling and returning. Especially fully vaccinated ones. That would apparently not be legal, given that the federal government has said that fully vaccinated US citizens are safe to travel. The right to travel interstate cannot be controlled at the state level and is entirely within the purview of the federal government.
State officials have never indicated what options are currently available to them, should that become necessary.
What options are on the table in Hawaii?
Various means are available to the counties and to the state including various mandates and lockdowns. Those could vary from the closure of or additional restrictions on county parks, beaches, and schools and businesses, to local curfews if needed. Gathering sizes, while already reduced, as recently as today, could be further reduced should that become necessary, based on the capacity of our medical system. It isn’t clear whether any stay-at-home orders are being considered.
When Governor Ige called for travelers both in Hawaii and from the mainland to voluntarily suspend travel for the next two months, he did not mandate any added restrictions.
Hawaii restaurant vaccination passports by Labor Day.
Ige said that a vaccination passport for restaurants, bars, gyms, etc., is expected to be operational in the next ten days. He said earlier that some restaurants feel that such a vaccination mandate would “push them over the edge.”
At this point, it could well be up to each business to decide if it wants to accept only those vaccinated customers or not. That while some other destinations that have already implemented vaccination passports actually require them.
Hawaii’s new digital smart health card will necessitate vaccination cards be uploaded to a website, in much the same way as the Hawaii Safe Travels protocol works. We hope to have more on that plan shortly.
The Garden Island has the lowest positivity rate in the state and had a relatively low 35 new cases today. The mayor said that if things don’t improve, he will have no choice but to implement another lockdown. What that could look like is not at all clear. On a more optimistic note, he said, “But we don’t have to do that. If we come together, shift our behavior, work together, like Kaua’i does time and time, and time again, we can lead by example. We can flatten this curve without major sacrifice.”
Big Island Mayor Mitch Roth just announced new rules today. The county now has limited gatherings to be no more than 10 people, whether indoors or outdoors. “Beaches and parks remain open. With a few minor changes, pavilions will be closed. Sports may continue.”
Hawaii Island will also be implementing a $250 citation for violation of any of the county or state’s Covid regulations. That in addition to a new $500 fine for breaking quarantine.
More regulations are coming, according to Mayor Roth, that will impact businesses, bars, restaurants, and churches.
New rules for Hawaii Island parks are also being introduced. Pop-ups, canopies, and tents are now prohibited, and again groups are limited to 10 and then must be at least 20 feet away from the next group.
The Ironman World Championship due to take place in October has been postponed.
Mayor Michael Victorino is still waiting since last week for approval or rejection of his new Covid restrictions. In addition, the mayor is asking for voluntary visitor compliance in staying at their resort properties and not visiting the overcrowded Hana area.
On Monday, Governor Ige said he would “be looking at Mayor Victorino’s request about further restrictions on Maui.”
Oahu has limited gatherings to 10 people indoors and 25 outdoors.
Regarding any added restrictions, Mayor Blangiardi is not indicating additional regulations at this time. He said, however, that a stay-at-home order or other regulations could be required if Covid continues to explode on Oahu.