Hawaii’s officials are taking action in the face of a worrying rise in COVID-19 infection rates experienced over the past two weeks. Having originally planned to begin a new pre-testing program on September 1 that would enable out-of-state visitors to forego the mandatory quarantine, the Aloha State instead finds itself moving backward.
Days ago, Governor David Ige reinstated mandatory quarantine for inter-island travelers to Kauai, Hawaii, Maui and Kalawao. The emergency order goes into effect today and is slated to continue through at least August 31, subject to extension.
Hawaiian health officials reported a record 231 new cases on August 8, and the state Health Department reported 141 new cases yesterday, 138 of them on Oahu, which has been experiencing the greatest surge in infection as home to the capital city of Honolulu.
“I have been working closely with all of our county mayors and we agree that reinstating part of the inter-island travel quarantine is necessary and the right thing to do at this time,” Ige said. “We must protect our neighbor island residents in light of the alarming increase in COVID-19 cases on Oahu.”
Over the weekend, Honolulu’s Mayor Kirk Caldwell closed down the county’s state and city parks, beaches and recreational facilities (including pools, playgrounds, sports courts and campgrounds), Travel + Leisure revealed. People are currently allowed to cross city parks only to, “engage in and return from ocean activities such as surfing, solo paddling, swimming and other activities allowed by law.”
Indoor attractions, such as bowling alleys, arcades, mini-golf, etc. are also shut down in accordance with the mayor’s ‘Act With Care – Do Not Gather’ order, which also prohibits outdoor social gatherings of more than ten people. Groups of up to ten, regardless of their household affiliation, are required to wear masks while out in public space, and members of separate living units must maintain a social distancing minimum of six feet from each other.
Hawaii’s Lieutenant Governor Josh Green told AP News that he expects the number of new cases to lessen as local closures and the renewed quarantine take effect. “We’ll likely see cases in the triple digits for another week, then the numbers should begin to drop,” he said. “If we do very well socially distancing, the numbers on Oahu could be back to the 20-30 a day or better by September 1.”
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