Mayor to Seek Approval from Governor on Larger Gatherings
Hawai‘i County Mayor Harry Kim hopes to get permission to allow larger community gatherings after two months of restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Today, Kim said he was working on a proposal to Gov. David Ige that requests a lift from the 10 people or less group size to 50 or less for indoors and 100 or less for outdoors. The mayor hopes to implement the new regulations by next week.
This request, Kim said, is possible because of testing and the work the county’s COVID-19 task force provided in community education and assisting businesses in safely reopening.
The Big Island has had zero active cases since May 27.
“This island has had no fatalities,” he mayor said proudly. “Only one person admitted to the hospital for observation and released the next day.”
Kim said the economy will recover, but “fatalities we cannot.”
Kim plans to send the proposal to the governor’s office on Wednesday.
The 14-day quarantine for inter-island travel is expected to be lifted on June 16. Kim acknowledged the lifted restriction will do little for the Big Island’s resorts. Tourism won’t bounce back without foreign and mainland travel, the mayor explained.
Since about mid-March, a 14-day quarantine has been in place for all travelers to the state. There is no timeline on when that restriction might lift.
Kim said some things are beyond the state’s control. While coronavirus cases may be on a downward trend here, the mayor said, there are states where COVID-19 cases are spiking.
“We just can’t open our doors,” he said. “No one wanted to do what had to be done, restricting our bread and butter, but it had to be done.”
Kim added the health and welfare of the community is the most important thing.
The state is looking at ways to open Hawai‘i back to the world. One of the things Ige has looked at, Kim said, is opening travel to certain countries where the case numbers are under control or on a downward trend. Some countries discussed were Japan, Korea, New Zealand or Australia.
There are currently 682 cases in Hawai‘i. Ige announced in May a reopening strategy for Hawai‘i that would occur in four phases. Currently, the state is in phase 2: Kama‘āina economy reopening. This month, the state reopened indoor gathering places, gyms, museums, theaters, personal services, like salons and in-dining at restaurants.
It has not yet been determined when larger gathering venues, bars or clubs will reopen.