(BIVN) – Governor David Ige, Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell, and Hawaiʻi health director Dr. Bruce Anderson on Tuesday afternoon announced new measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 on Oʻahu, where there has been a dramatic increase of new cases in the month of August.
The new rules were detailed in this news release from the Hawaiʻi COVID-19 Joint Information Center:
Governor Approves Honolulu Modified Restrictions, Trans-Pacific Travel Delayed
Governor Ige approved Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s latest emergency orders that returns O‘ahu to the Act Now Honolulu-No Social Gatherings, from the Act with Care phase to try and flatten the recent surge in COVID-19 cases on the island. The governor also announced a delay in the resumption of trans-Pacific travel and said it will be delayed from a Sept. 1 start to at least Oct.1, at the earliest. He said the reopening, along with pre-travel testing protocols will be announced well in advance to allow businesses to prepare for the return of visitors. Governor Ige said that Neighbor island 14-day quarantine remains in place. He says the State is carefully monitoring the healthcare system as it is experiencing some stress, but remains well positioned to respond to the coronavirus cases being seen currently
Mayor Caldwell Outlines Act Now Honolulu-No Social Gatherings Order
Mayor Caldwell said at the news briefing that county and state leaders discussed the modified restrictions for O‘ahu over the past five days, trying to decide whether to use a scalpel or a hammer. “We’ve chosen a scalpel,” Caldwell said.
Here are the key changes from the previous restrictions, officials say, which go into effect at midnight tomorrow (Wednesday):
- No indoor or outdoor gatherings for the next 28 days
- No parties larger than 5 people
- Face coverings required at all shopping malls
- Face coverings required at all in-person spiritual services, no singing, no wind instruments
- No groups larger than 5 at restaurants (down from 10)
- Outdoor attractions, recreational and commercial boating-no groups larger than 5
- No social gatherings are permitted in businesses
- Businesses encouraged to reduce employee numbers on-site by encouraging tele-commuting or staggered work schedules.
- No groups larger than 5 at museums and movie theatres
- Bars, beaches, parks, trails, remained closed
Also during today’s news conference, Dr. Anderson discussed “media reports about his absence”. The State shared this information:
State Health Director Dr. Bruce Anderson discussed media reports about his absence at today’s news briefing. He said, “I know many of you have been asking about the brief rest break I took last week for a few days. Let me explain that I needed some time to rest and rejuvenate, and I appreciate the Governor granting me that brief time to rest, since we have all been at this non-stop since the pandemic began. Let me reassure you that I am at work, directing the Department of Health’s response and Dr. Sarah Park is at work continuing to guide our disease outbreak control measures. We all need a break periodically to keep working at our optimum level and to be effective.”
Anderson added that while the high number of cases is concerning, Hawai‘i is seeing a leveling or plateauing of the numbers and they do not appear to be rising or increasing at this time. He calls this a hopeful development but reminded everyone that case numbers can increase quite quickly. He said, “When we all work together to reduce the spread of the virus, we will see a decrease in the number of new positive cases. City & County of Honolulu restrictions and enhanced enforcement will also help, and it may be a few weeks before we see the results of those actions.”
Anderson concluded that there is no amount of contact tracing that can reduce the number of cases if, first, people continue to spread the disease by gathering and not using masks or physical distancing. Many of the cases being investigated now are people who attended multiple large gatherings and then proceeded to work while ill. They folks let their guard down and spread the virus throughout O‘ahu. Anderson said, “Together, we can bring the numbers down by not gathering and avoiding close contact with others. Businesses who control their customer interaction will help to control the spread.
Now workplaces and office spaces must also support their employees in keeping their guard up especially during rest times, breaks, and socializing.”
DOH continues to work with the counties to conduct outreach and other measures to support those who are affected at a higher rate by COVID-19 in Hawai‘i such as Pacific Islanders and large families who live in crowded conditions.