HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Under current reopening guidelines, the city is on track to roll back to Tier 2 on Wednesday.
But Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi says that is the absolute last thing he wants to do.
Instead, he is seeking a modification to the tier system to allow Oahu to move forward — not backward. He cites a reliable supply of COVID vaccines on island, low hospitalization rates, and other factors in his decision.
“We have a good supply of vaccinations on island. We have the capability right now on a distribution basis of doing over 100,000 vaccines a week,” he said, in a news conference Monday.
“This is a race against time, against a possible surge. I’m not an epidemiologist, but I also understand that for this community, a potential roll back into Tier 2 would be very very difficult.”
Oahu’s currently in Tier 3, which is defined under the city’s current reopening plan as a seven-day average case count average of 20-49 new infections and a positivity rate of 1% to 2.49%.
As of Monday, Oahu had a seven-day average of 53, with a positivity rate of 2.1%.
In a news conference Monday, Gov. David Ige said he was fine with taking a wait-and-see approach to the tier system and insists any changes to Oahu’s current status are in the hands of the mayor.
“It may be necessary to modify his order, so that it’s not automatic. Right now the order was written so that come Wednesday, based on the number of successive Wednesdays, the action would be required.”
He added, “I suppose they can ignore the current order. Probably it might be better for them to make a modification to that requirement, that directs the mayor to issue a new order.”
Blangiardi inherited the tier standards, which were set by the previous Caldwell administration. Falling back to Tier 2 would mean the return of a host of new restrictions, including strict limits on gathering sizes for social events and weddings. Retailers would also have to cut capacity in store in half.
The mayor said any changes to the tier system would need to approved by the governor.
“I think quite honestly that the tier numbers, when they were constructed before, were being too low,” Blangiardi said. “I’ve asked for a modification to Tier 3 to have it be 50 to 100 cases.
“I think we can stay in that range and a positivity rate of around 2.5.”
He also acknowledged the threat of variants and different strains of the virus, but said he’s hopeful the community will continue to follows safe practices to ensure businesses remain open.
“Let’s just hope better heads prevail in this. Do we want to modify Tier 3? Possibly,” he said.
“But the notion of rolling back into Tier 2 is something that I’m dead set against as mayor and I’ll be on record of saying that.”