HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - In one of the most sweeping efforts yet in Hawaii aimed at stopping the spread of the coronavirus, Kauai’s mayor has instituted a nighttime curfew indefinitely.
Mayor Derek Kawakami said the island-wide curfew begins Friday, and will be in effect from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. Everyone on Kauai must remain in their homes during those times, he said.
He said the curfew, which he’s implementing under an emergency rule, is meant to increase social distancing and ensure that essential services will continue.
“After taking an assessment of what will likely be a very long journey for all of us and the amount of limited resources that we have ... we must take bold steps to ensure that our public safety officials, first responders, and healthcare workers have the necessary environment in which to keep us all safe."
The curfew is the first instituted in the islands amid the coronavirus pandemic.
And Mayor Kirk Caldwell said Wednesday said he had no plans to put a curfew in place on Oahu.
The city has closed city parks, the Honolulu Zoo, large venues and a host of gatherings.
Maui has taken similar actions, while the Big Island’s mayor has said the decision on whether to close up shop will be left to businesses.
The governor, meanwhile, has urged visitors to stay away, said large events should be canceled, and told bars and night clubs to close. Also Wednesday, the state Education Department announced it was closing public schools through at least April 6.
So far, there have been 16 cases of coronavirus confirmed in Hawaii. Two of those have been on Kauai ― both in visitors. The mayor said the two remain in isolation and are doing well.
But health officials acknowledge that the actual number of cases is likely far higher because of the lag in testing and because many people experience mild symptoms.
Kawakami added that the curfew does not apply to those commuting to and from work, working for an essential service provider, delivering food for an establishment, or for those seeking medical attention.
Also Wednesday, the mayor said that airline travel to and from Kauai will be limited to essential needs.
“Until further notice, visitors should not be traveling to our island for recreational purposes,” he said. “Kauai is on vacation.”
And he urged the vacation industry not to market Kauai as a place to visit until the threat is gone.
“We understand that these measures will result in hardships for many of our business owners and residents," he said. “But the longer it takes us to make these drastic decisions, the longer it will take us to get to a point of economic recovery.”
This story will be updated.