Governor doesn’t support new restrictions on business, but some changes could be coming

Published: Aug. 5, 2021 at 5:54 PM HST|Updated: Aug. 5, 2021 at 6:14 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The governor announced a vaccine mandate for state and county workers Thursday, but said he’s against also reinstating “across-the-board restrictions” on business and travel in a bid to bring down the soaring number of infections in the islands.

He said he believes vaccinations are more effective at slowing the virus.

Even so, new gathering restrictions could be coming.

The governor said discussions about potential restrictions have been ongoing for the past two weeks. They will continue Friday at a meeting with the mayors of all four counties.

At a news conference Thursday afternoon, the governor didn’t address the topic of restrictions until he was specifically asked. “We’re trying to be very focused,” he said.

Ige made it clear he’s against another business shutdown or stay-at-home order.

“We are committed to not implementing across-the-board restrictions because it does penalize those businesses and entities that have done a good job on implementing mitigation strategies,” he said.

Talk of rule changes comes amid uncontrolled community spread of the delta variant.

There are nearly 4,400 active cases in the state. Officials estimate 7% will end up in the hospital.

With many facilities already full of non-COVID emergencies, health officials worry hospitals won’t have the staff to care for everyone.

“The return to normalcy that we were all fighting so hard to attain in now in jeopardy,” said Hawaii Health Director Dr. Elizabeth Char.

So far, about 958,000 Hawaii residents have been vaccinated.

There are about 211,000 children who aren’t yet eligible for the shot.

“The quarter of a million people that have simply chosen not to get vaccinated, they’re going to catch COVID ― the delta variant,” said Lt. Gov. Josh Green.

“They’re going to take the risk of going into the hospital.”

Green urged those people to get their shots today.

“I know we all have different ideologies about that,” he said. “But do not listen to people who make stuff up about what the vaccine is going to do to you. All it’s (the vaccine) going to do is prevent you from catching COVID.”

Meanwhile, Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi says he has no intention of moving backwards in the tier system. “Talking to the medical people we feel like we have enough critical mass we don’t have to impose the kind of prior restrictions we had before,” he said.

“We just have to focus on getting people vaccinated.”

Another startling statistic that show just how rapidly the virus is spreading: One month ago, there were about 30 people hospitalized with COVID in Hawaii. On Thursday, that number stood at 166.

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