HONOLULU (KHON) — Gov. David Ige is asking visitors and residents alike to restrict travel to essential business only as Hawaii sees an alarming rise in COVID cases linked to community spread.
“It’s a risky time to be traveling right now,” Ige said on Monday. “We do know that it is not a good time to travel to the islands.”
Despite Ige’s request, Hawaii is still accepting visitors from within the United States who are either fully vaccinated or have proof of a negative COVID-19 test. However, masks are still required indoors and restaurants are operating at limited capacity. “We know that the visitors who choose to come to the island will not have the typical kind of holiday that they expect when they visit Hawaii,” Ige said.
Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi announced Monday all large gatherings on Oahu will be scaled back to 10 people indoors and 25 outdoors beginning Wednesday, Aug. 25.
The mayor said the restrictions will stay in effect for the next four weeks. Concerts, luaus, athletic events, funerals and weddings will be impacted. Restaurants will be allowed to continue operating at 50% capacity, but will be required to keep groups to 10 or less.
“We are seeing more COVID patients in the hospitals, and the ICU’s are filling up,” Ige said in support of Blangiardi’s decision. “I certainly encourage everyone to avoid large gatherings.”
Ige said hospitals are currently looking at transitioning regular hospital beds into beds able to take ICU patients.
“It’s really a crisis out there,” Jason Chang, Queen’s Health Systems COO said on Friday. “The number of new positive COVID cases is just increasingly high, and we’re worried about that because it translates to more patients that are going to need emergency care in the hospitals, and between all the normal emergencies and COVID cases, it’s overwhelming our systems.”
Ige said a lockdown is on the table if the number of cases continue to grow exponentially, however, he did not provide specific triggers that would lead to that decision.
There were 571 new coronavirus cases reported on Monday: 359 cases on Oahu, 107 on the Big Island, 23 on Kauai, two on Lanai, 79 on Maui and one resident diagnosed out of state.
Hawaii ranks among the states with largest percentage of its population vaccinated against COVID-19. Nearly 87% of adults have received at least one dose, according to New York Times data.