Kauai mayor says he won’t be pushed to reopen ‘prematurely’

File photo of Kauai's Hanalei Bay. (Courtesy: Google Maps)
File photo of Kauai's Hanalei Bay. (Courtesy: Google Maps)
Published: Apr. 24, 2020 at 11:10 AM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Kauai has had some of the strictest rules in place since the early days of coronavirus in Hawaii, including an island-wide overnight curfew and a strong enforcement of travel quarantine rules.

It’s resulted in a low case count of just 21 positives and no deaths.

And now, reopening of businesses on the island could be in the near future — but Kauai Mayor Derek Kawakami stressed they’ll be doing it on their own terms.

“Public comments were made about the potential for Kauai to be the state’s testing site for reopening to visitors. Here’s what I have to say about that," Mayor Kawakami said in his daily online briefing from the island’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC).

”Here at the EOC, we have a great team and a sound process. Every single decision that we make is with the guidance of District Health Officer, Dr. Janet Berreman and her staff," he said.

Just a day earlier, Berreman outlined the criteria the island must meet before beginning a slow and phased reopening, which could happen as early as May 3.

“We cannot open the flood gates, as they say. Rather, we must loosen these restrictions in a way that prepares and protects our island for the long term,” she said.

To gradually lift restrictions, there must be no signs of community spread for at least four weeks. Dr. Berreman noted the cycle of two incubation periods without spread which began back on April 5.

“Our process is proven to be effective and works just right for our island, and that’s the way it should be,” Mayor Kawakami said Thursday. “We march to the beat of our own drum. We will not be pushed to reopen prematurely if this team and myself does not feel that it is safe, and is the right thing to do.”

COVID-19: Daily update, Thursday, April 23 #FlattenTheCurve #ShakasNotShakes

COVID-19: Daily update, Thursday, April 23 #FlattenTheCurve #ShakasNotShakes ASL interpretation: https://youtu.be/V-1SFOB4iFw

Posted by County of Kaua'i on Thursday, April 23, 2020

Mayor Kawakami also acknowledged the importance of getting the wheels of Kauai’s economy rolling again. He assure residents there is a plan and strategy in place to reopen, and they are following it.

As of Thursday, officials reported only one active and confirmed case on the Garden Isle. The 20 others have either recovered or flown back to residences out of county.

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