Roth lifts all county COVID restrictions

  • STAR-ADVERTISER Hawaii County Mayor Mitch Roth.

Mayor Mitch Roth Monday afternoon announced the end to all Hawaii County emergency rules related to COVID-19.

The termination of Hawaii County’s Thirteenth Supplementary Emergency Proclamation, means there will no longer be a limit on gathering sizes for both indoor and outdoor facilities and venues.

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“Today marks the beginning of a new chapter for Hawaii County,” Roth said in a video message announcing the end of restrictions implemented in March 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic took hold.

However, residents must still adhere to Gov. David Ige’s indoor mask-wearing rules, Safe Travels requirements and testing and vaccination requirements for county and state employees. The governor’s emergency order will remain in effect until March 25 unless otherwise acted upon.

“As a county we remain in regular conversation with the governor and continue to express our belief in all of you,” Roth said. “We ask that you continue to act in the best interest of each other, make smart decisions when gathering, and — most importantly — stay home when sick.”

Roth said Monday it is unclear if the governor will extend his emergency rules beyond then.

“COVID is by no means gone, but we now believe we are getting to a point where we can learn to live with the virus. Our medical professionals and frontline first responders have shown that we are capable of moving forward cautiously. We have the resources, we have the want, and we have the capacity,” he said.

On Tuesday, the state Department of Health reported just 29 new coronavirus cases on the Big Island, bringing the total case count to 25,822 since late February 2020. Some 604 cases were considered active Tuesday, down from 5,437 a month ago on Jan. 28. The island’s test positivity rate Tuesday stood at 3.5%.

No new coronavirus-related deaths were reported Tuesday, leaving the death toll at 181.

“If we have to pivot, we will. But for now, we remain optimistic and ready to tackle the challenges ahead – together,” Roth said.

Meanwhile Monday, Honolulu announced it will no longer require businesses including restaurants and fitness centers to verify employees and customers are fully vaccinated or have a negative COVID-19 test.

Mayor Rick Blangiardi said he will allow the emergency order that mandated vaccination proof or negative tests to expire on Saturday. City employees are still required to comply with the state’s vaccination requirements.

“Let us find joy in this moment as it brings hope, relief and positivity as we look forward to our new way of life where we live with, rather than are led by COVID,” Blangiardi said.

Kauai County Mayor Derek Kawakami also announced that a similar program on Kauai would end on Tuesday.

Maui County ended its COVID-19 restrictions, including vaccine and negative test requirements for people who wanted to enter certain businesses such as restaurants and gyms, on Feb. 21.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.