State, businesses applaud CDC’s decision to ease COVID guidance

The agency is no longer recommending six feet of social distancing.
Published: Aug. 11, 2022 at 5:36 PM HST|Updated: Aug. 11, 2022 at 6:00 PM HST

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - New CDC guidelines released Thursday will lead to more relaxed quarantine rules at Hawaii schools and could provide a lift for businesses struggling with the current labor shortage.

The CDC said it’s dropping the 6-foot social distancing guidance and is eliminating the quarantine recommendation for anyone who has been in close contact with an infected person.

According to the CDC, about 95% of the U.S. population has now acquired some level of immunity ― either from being vaccinated or being infected.

“We feel that the move towards dropping quarantine in community settings is something we want to implement right away,” said Dr. Sarah Kemble, state epidemiologist with the state Health Department.

“I do understand that it may take a little while ... for us to get all of our guidance updated on our website and for schools to incorporate the latest recommendations into their protocols.”

Right now, the Health Department is recommending any one who is not vaccinated ― and has had a close contact with an infected person at home or outside of the schools ― to quarantine for five days.

“This (now) would mean that if you’re exposed outside of school, you also don’t need to quarantine,” Kemble said.

Businesses said that dropping the five-day quarantine for any one who has been exposed but not infected will also help employers struggling with the current labor shortage.

“That being lifted is definitely going to help to bring people back to the workplace,” said Ryan Tanaka, chair of the Hawaii Restaurant Association.

“This is definitely another positive sign that we’re going in a better direction.”

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