Governor Says “Targeted Restrictions” Are Near for O‘ahu
By Wendy Osher
Governor David Ige and Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell met at length yesterday and have agreed that additional targeted restrictions will be needed to stem the spread of COVID-19 on O‘ahu.
The news came via a brief statement released by the Hawaiʻi COVID-19 Joint Information Center on Monday afternoon in which Gov. Ige said he anticipates an announcement with details soon.
Here on Maui, Mayor Michael Victorino said he’ll continue to monitor numbers and assess capacity.
“I’d like to look at our numbers over the next few days to even consider another shutdown. I think most of us feel maybe something should be done on O‘ahu–stay-at-home, work-from-home alert status and go back to that. But here on Maui, we’re still a little bit away from it; however, if the community does not cooperate and the knuckleheads continue to do what they’re doing, we may have to step it back and shut down again and that’s the last thing I’d like to do if at all possible.”
Gov. Ige said during his press conference last week Thursday that he was mulling restrictions amid record breaking increases in COVID-19 cases:
“If things do not get better we will have no choice but to look at more restrictions. This could include going back to the stay at home orders, or other restrictive measures that we need to implement in order to stem the increase in the number of COVID cases. It also means that we will be looking at a delay of the trans-Pacific pre-travel testing program. I know that going backwards will cause further harm to our economy but we have always said that the health and safety of our community will be the highest priority and as we have seen, this rapid increase in cases has put significant stress on our hospitals and our health care system.”
During Thursday’s press briefing last week, Gov. Ige explained further his position on trans-Pacific travel saying, “We continue to look at the health determinants. As we have said from the very beginning, heath care capacity and the capacity in our hospitals is one fundamental metric that we are monitoring so we want to see the number of cases drop, which would then reduce the stress on the hospital facilities. With the case count increasing the way it has, it would be very difficult to implement and start the pre-travel testing program on September 1, but we have not made that decision. We do want to see another few days of data to see what the impact of the increased restrictions have been on O‘ahu, and we continue to work and speak with the hospitals.”
Guidelines listed on the Hawaii Tourism Authority website outline pre-testing plans, but organization representatives say the guidelines were the ones that were in the governor’s press briefing from July 13, and the state Department of Health has not given any updates on the pre-travel testing program since then.
It’s ultimately up to the governor to decide if he wants to push back the start date again. Stay with us as we monitor developments.