(BIVN) – Hawaiʻi County Mayor Mitch Roth on Friday morning announced several new rule changes are going into effect on the Big Island, due to the current surge in COVID-19 infections and rising hospitalizations.
Mayor Roth was joined by Hawaiʻi County Parks and Recreation director Maurice Messina for a news conference, which was livestreamed with the help of Nā Leo TV. The news conference was initially set to take place on August 23, but was postponed until today.
“We have reached a tipping point where further inundation could lead our hospitals to an inability to adequately care for non-COVID trauma patients”, Roth said. “People like me who had heart attacks, strokes, crash victims, and others could go without a bed if we continue to allow COVID to spread at the current rate in our community.”
Mayor Roth said he has signed the COVID Emergency Rule Number 17, in concurrence with Governor David Ige’s 21st emergency proclamation, which takes effect immediately.
Roth says the new rules reduce gathering sizes to 10 people, both indoors and outdoors.
Under the new rules, the County will also ramp up enforcement. “Our Hawaiʻi Police Department’s officers have been given the authority to issue $250 dollar citations to all those found in violation of any of the COVID-19 rules” outlined in the new State and County rules, Roth said.
Roth said anyone found to be in violation of breaking quarantine will be fined $500 dollars, “no questions asked”.
Roth says the new rules outline guidance for business, bars, restaurants, and places of worship, “to ensure that the patrons are properly distanced with clear COVID-19 protocols and procedures in place.”
Director Messina detailed the following changes to Hawaiʻi County park facilities:
- Parks and beaches will not be closed, but gathering sizes will be limited to pods of 10, separated by 20 feet.
- Tents and canopies will be prohibited at beaches and parks
- At athletic events, gathering pods of 10 will be maintained.
- All park and athletic-field permits are being rescinded.
- Camping sizes are being reduced to 10 people.
- Pavilion rentals are being cancelled.
- The Hilo golf course will remain open.
- Swimming pools will remain open, but only for lap swim. Teams will no longer be able to use the pool facilities.
- Big events planned for the equestrian centers will be cancelled.
- Masks will be required at the Panaʻewa Rainforest Zoo, indoors and outdoors. The zoo playgrounds will be closed and the Saturday petting zoo will be discontinued.