Provinces can set their own COVID-19 rules | News, Sports, Jobs

Gov. David Ige on Tuesday announced changes to the state’s COVID-19 measures, including giving power to provinces over their emergency orders and regulations for social gatherings, bars, restaurants, gyms and other venues. The Maui News / COLLEEN UECHI Photo

Maui County will continue to allow 100 percent capacity and drop 6-foot spacing requirements in restaurants, bars and other establishments as Governor David Ige announced he would return emergency powers and other decisions to counties.

“As we have seen an improvement and stabilization of virus activity in our community, now is a really good time to bring state coordination back to the provinces,” Ige said during a news conference with the mayors of Maui, Hawaii and Honolulu Tuesday afternoon.

“I will no longer need the provincial coordination of their emergency orders. Provinces are free to act in the interest of their province by imposing restrictions as necessary in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Hawaii currently has an average of 112 daily cases per day, with a test positivity rate of 1.5 percent, according to Department of Health data as of Tuesday. Maui County has an average of 15 new cases per day, tied with Kauai County for the lowest in the state, and a test positivity rate of 1.5 percent, tied with Honolulu County for the lowest statewide. Vaccination rates are at 72.4 percent of the total population statewide, including 75 percent in Honolulu County, 68 percent in Hawaii and Kauai counties, and 65 percent in Maui County.

The governor had previously required counties to implement their proposed state emergency rules to maintain uniformity among the ever-changing pandemic restrictions. New changes Ige announced Tuesday include:

• Counties no longer need to obtain approval from the governor or the director of the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency before issuing county emergency orders, regulations, or proclamations. The provinces remain directly responsible for disaster relief with their respective provinces. The change will take effect on December 1.

• End of the state decree on social gatherings, restaurants, bars, social institutions and gyms on December 1. The provinces will take appropriate measures for social gatherings, restaurant activities, social institutions and other locations in their own provinces.

• Driving license extensions, instruction cards and replacements will end on Monday.

• No longer exempt critical infrastructure employees from the 10-day travel quarantine, consistent with federal and state implementation of vaccination and testing policies. Exemptions for people who previously tested positive for COVID-19 and other exemptions remain under consideration.

“This is really just a return to normal emergency situations where provinces are run and the state provides guidance and support,” Ige said he would return emergency control to the provinces. “Emergencies are usually county specific and run through the county with state aid.”

Speaking remotely from Las Vegas, where he is attending the Maui Jim Maui Invitational, Mayor Michael Victorino said the county will have the same rules for restaurants, with 100 percent capacity and no six-foot distance, and with customers can sit inside. as long as they are vaccinated and/or tested. The rules do not apply to sitting outside.

“For the others, like gyms and other high-traffic areas, we’re going to let them go to 100 percent capacity, but physical distancing will still be required,” Victorino said during the press conference.

The mayor said in a statement shortly afterwards that his government “Currently studying existing regulations and we will soon announce plans to relax more of Maui County’s public health restrictions.”

“I want to thank the people of Maui County for their outstanding work protecting and supporting each other throughout this pandemic,” said Victorino. “Our positivity rate of 1.5 percent is one of the lowest in the country. I also want to thank Governor Ige for his leadership and guidance over the past 20 months. I have no doubt that the governor’s methodical approach has saved hundreds of lives.”

Ige said other programs that have proven effective will remain in effect, including the Hawaii Safe Travels program, the indoor mask mandate, the vaccination and testing requirements for state administrators and county employees, and the vaccination and testing requirements for contractors and visitors to state facilities. .

When asked about the future of the Safe Travels program, Ige said the state still believes “It’s important for those trans-Pacific travelers who aren’t vaccinated and who don’t take a pre-travel test to go into quarantine, and that’s the best thing we can do to keep our community safe.”

He said about two-thirds of travelers to the islands have been fully vaccinated, while a third are still subject to quarantine or pre-travel testing.

The governor will sign the new proclamation on Monday. It will remain in effect through January 28, unless terminated or replaced by a separate proclamation.

* Colleen Uechi can be reached at [email protected]

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