Hawaii reinstates inter-island travel quarantine and other restrictions as Covid-19 cases surge

Hollie Silverman, CNNPublished 7th August 2020
Fewer-than-usual people are seen at Ala Moana Beach in Honolulu, Hawaii, on July 29, 2020, amid the novel coronavirus outbreak. (Photo by Kyodo News/Sipa USA)
(CNN) — Hawaiian officials are tightening restrictions after a surge in Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations statewide -- with majority of the cases on the island of Oahu.
About 200 new cases and two new deaths were reported Thursday, Gov. David Ige said.
"There is no question that the virus is surging," he said. "This is the last thing that we wanted to do...As we reopen our community people let their guard down. It's been very disappointing."
Ige announced that a 14-day inter-island travel quarantine will be in place starting August 11 to stop further spread to other islands.
Bruce Anderson, Director of Hawaii Department of Health, said 117 Covid patients are in the hospital statewide, with 115 of them on Oahu.
More than 53% of the ICU beds on the island are filled, he said.
Hospitals could be overwhelmed by the end of the month if the upward trend of new cases continues as 10% of people who test positive for Covid-19 end up in the hospital, Anderson said.
"We are approaching a healthcare crisis and bold measures are needed now," he said.
Anderson noted the new cases on Oahu were linked to community spread on all parts of the island, across all socioeconomic groups and communities.
In response to the dramatic increase in coronavirus cases, Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell announced Thursday that all beaches and parks will be closed on Oahu.
The source of the new virus spread has been tied to "large, uncontrolled gatherings," Caldwell said during a press conference. "We need to clamp down."
As a result, a new executive order will be in effect at midnight on Friday through September 5 closing all county and state parks, as well as the beaches fronting them.

What the restrictions will mean

No activities will be allowed on the beach or in the parks but people will be allowed to walk on the beach to get to the water for surfing, fishing, paddling and diving, Caldwell said.
Parking lots with ballot drop off boxes will remain open through the weekend so people can vote but they will close after that, Caldwell said. All team sports that take place at parks are suspended.
"What's open are things we can control and where we have seen compliance," the mayor explained.
Fitness centers will be allowed to stay open but will be banned from providing group classes.
Caldwell said indoor attractions such as bowling alleys, arcades, and mini golf will also be closed.
In addition, the mask requirements for restaurants will be expanded to cooks in the kitchen. There will also be stronger enforcement on bars "posing as restaurants," Caldwell said.
The Honolulu Police Department has created a new Covid Enforcement Team that will respond to complaints and perform proactive patrols, Honolulu Police Chief Susan Ballard said during the press conference.
She added that 160 additional officers will be working seven days a week as part of that team. Police have been trying to warn and educate people but will now be issuing citations, Ballard said.
"At this point we're probably going to do very few warnings," the police chief said. "It's going to be citations or arrests."