As cases spike higher, city bans gatherings of more than 10 people — both indoors and out

Updated: Aug. 3, 2020 at 11:31 AM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - With coronavirus cases across the state surging, and local health officials unable to keep up with testing, city officials on Oahu are re-enacting some emergency measures in an an attempt to limit community spread of the illness.

The Caldwell administration said Monday that Gov. David Ige had approved a request to limit all indoor and outdoor social gatherings to no more than ten people, regardless of whether or not they are from the same household.

A spokesperson said the new ban went into effect immediately.

“The goal here is to keep as much of our island open and running as possible, but in a way that’s safe,” said Mayor Kirk Caldwell. “For example, instead of closing down facilities like parks, where people can exercise outdoors, we’re trying to control the size of gatherings in those parks.”

Monday’s new emergency order does not limit the number of people allowed in certain spaces and does not limit the number of people allowed inside stores, for example, to ten people.

Rather, the order targets gatherings of friends and families who may be congregating in beaches, parks or inside homes — situations where social distancing and mask-wearing are often not practiced as vigilantly as they may be when out in public.

Photos taken over the weekend show a large crowd of people on top of the jumping rock at Waimea Bay as well as a boat packed with individuals at Maunalua Bay.

“You’re going to get off that boat, you’re going to come into the community, and you’re going to be around our kupuna and our elders, and that’s my concern,” said Maunalua resident Malia Marquez. “This behavior is irresponsible, selfish.”

While Gov. David Ige said that he prefers stepping up enforcement instead of a statewide shutdown, Lt. Gov. Josh Green said the state may need to reinstate some restrictions.

“That’s why the rule about just having use of beaches just for exercise kind of worked because it was easy to enforce. You could see if people had gathered or were kind of hunkered down at the beach,” Green said.

Green said the state can flatten the curve, but it’s going to take a lot of work from people to physically distance and keep their masks on.

“What’s probably going to happen is 5 to 7 days from now, there’s going to be another spike of cases. When it goes up to the next level, instead of people being concerned and complaining about us locking down, they’re going to demand we lock down,” he said.

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