As the rest of the country reopens, Hawaii COVID restrictions to remain in place

Published: Jul. 1, 2021 at 6:38 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - While the rest of the country reopens, Hawaii plans to keep several of its COVID restrictions in place until 70% of its population is fully vaccinated.

Oregon, Washington and New Mexico all eased their orders this week but the state is still requiring vaccinated residents to follow CDC restrictions.

“We do believe it’s prudent at this time to maintain the restrictions,” said Gov. David Ige.

Ige said he’s still worried about variants, but businesses feel they’re being punished unfairly.

Even as the state moves to the less restrictive Tier 5 next week, retailers and restaurants said they still have to maintain the 6-foot social distancing requirement in their establishments.

“You hear a lot of frustration of people not getting reservations at many restaurant because there is only so many tables they can do with the 6 feet distancing,” said Victor Lim, owner of several McDonald’s franchise restaurants and former chair of the Hawaii Restaurant Association.

He estimated that about 10% of all restaurants have gone out of business because of the pandemic.

Lim said even though restaurants can operate at 75% capacity after next week, the 6-foot social distancing requirement forces them to operate at a much lower capacity.

“We have the best record in the country in terms of vaccinations and infections and stuff like that, but we are one of the most restrictive right now,” he said.

Lt. Gov. Josh Green said he expects further easing of the rules after next month.

“If our case counts are very low and our hospitalization rates are very low as we head toward Aug. 8 and the expiration of the emergency proclamation, I will make the case to the (governor) to get rid of the rest of the restrictions,” he said.

Ige said reducing distancing rules to allow restaurants to reach 75% capacity is under discussion but he’s not making a commitment.

“We continue to see clusters associated with restaurants. So the notion that there is no virus transmissions in restaurants is not accurate,” he said.

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