Hawaii is reimposing immediate restrictions amid a surge in COVID-19 infections, governor David Ige said on Tuesday. If you're hoping to visit the Aloha State soon, here's what you need to be aware of.
Hawaii has reimposed some restrictions on gatherings and hospitality as concerns over another wave of coronavirus grow. Under the latest rules, restaurants and bars will return to 50% capacity, alongside gyms and social establishments. Gatherings will be reduced to no more than 10 people indoors and 20 outdoors. Masks will be required in public spaces, and social distancing guidelines will apply too.
All high-risk activities, such as bars, restaurants, gyms, and social establishments will be set to 50% indoor capacity. Counties will review proposals for all professionally sponsored events (bigger than 50 people) and ensure appropriate safe practices will be implemented.
— Governor David Ige (@GovHawaii) August 11, 2021
Hawaii recently eased restrictions on domestic travel, allowing fully vaccinated tourists from the US mainland to visit. The easing of travel restrictions occurred in July as the state reached a milestone in its vaccination campaign, with 60% of the population fully vaccinated.
The state's government had also felt confident enough to reopen much of its economy in in summer after several weeks of low case numbers. But the highly-transmissable Delta variant has been a game-changer despite the early promising signs.
In a statement, Mr Ige said the Delta variant of COVID-19 "has changed the course of the pandemic" across the state. "We are seeing case numbers in the 600s – the highest numbers we’ve seen since this pandemic began," he added. "This requires immediate and serious attention to avert unmanageable strains on our healthcare system and other catastrophic impacts to the state."
In the meantime, Hawaii is also trying to manage overtourism as locals and officials push for a more balanced and sustainable return to pre-pandemic times. The tourism board in O'ahu is working on reducing the numbers of visitors to the island over the next three years, Kaua'i is introducing visitor and parking fees at state parks, and Maui County Council introduced a two-year ban on new hotels in south and west Maui.