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Hawaii reinstates COVID-19 restrictions on businesses and public gatherings

Mia Shimabuku/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The state of Hawaii is reinstating some COVID-19 restrictions on public gatherings and businesses in response to rising COVID-19 cases.

Democratic Gov. David Ige on Tuesday signed an executive order reimposing capacity limits on restaurants, bars, and other places where people gather in public.

"With COVID-19 cases going up, the State of Hawaiʻi is taking precautions now to avert a strain on our healthcare systems. To that end — I'll be signing an Executive Order that will limit social gatherings, effective immediately," the governor announced on social media.

The governor's order will limit social gatherings to no more than 10 people indoors and no more than 25 outdoors.

Anyone who dines out at a restaurant or bar must be seated at least 6 feet away from other diners and masks are required at all times except when actively eating or drinking.

Any proposals for professionally sponsored events with crowds of 50 people or more must be reviewed and approved by county governments. These events include weddings, meetings, banquets, and conventions.

Indoor capacity at businesses including restaurants, gyms, or other social venues will be limited to 50%.

These restrictions will apply statewide and the governor's executive order will remain in effect until Oct. 18.

"The Delta variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus has changed the course of the pandemic in Hawaiʻi. We are seeing case numbers in the 600s – the highest numbers we've seen since this pandemic began," Ige said in a statement. "This requires immediate and serious attention to avert unmanageable strains on our healthcare system and other catastrophic impacts to the state."

According to the state Department of Health, slightly more than 60% of the state's population has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Another 68.5% of residents have received at least one vaccine dose and almost every state resident over age 65 has had at least one shot.

Still, there was an average of 506 new cases reported daily in the last week, more than double the number of cases reported in August 2020 at what was then the height of the pandemic, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reports.

Lt. Gov. Josh Green said Tuesday there are currently 246 state residents hospitalized with COVID-19, 92.3% of whom are not vaccinated. Half of the individuals who are hospitalized are under age 50, he said.

"People think it was just old people, our kupuna, that were getting sick and coming to the hospital," said Green. "That is not correct any longer. It is a younger disease now."

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