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Kauaʻi Will Change COVID Reopening Plan to Handle Delta Variant

AP Photo/Caleb Jones
People line up to get COVID-19 vaccinations in Lihue on March 3, 2021. (AP Photo/Caleb Jones)

Kauaʻi Mayor Derek Kawakami said officials will be making changes to the tier system as the Delta variant continues to impact the county.

As of Thursday afternoon, there were 240 active cases on the island, with seven people in the hospital.

Officials will continue to enforce strict COVID-19 safety measures even as the state approaches a vaccination rate of 70%, a milestone earlier set for loosening rules under a tiered reopening plan

"Throughout the pandemic, we have adjusted to the changing realities of COVID-19, and we continually work to keep our community safe while doing everything we can to keep our businesses and activities open," Kawakami said Thursday.

Kawakami said he foresees continued restrictions on social gatherings and professionally organized events going forward.

Any changes to Kauaʻi’s tier system will have to be approved by Gov. David Ige before being implemented.

"Like the other counties, we will be moving away from the current tier system. However, we remain committed to keeping schools, youth sports, local businesses and parks and activities open with safety measures in place — so long as our hospitals have capacity to continue serving our community," he said.

The current tier system would have allowed for all restrictions, including business capacity rules and gathering sizes, to be dropped when the population was 70% vaccinated.

About 67% of state residents and 65% of Kauaʻi residents are fully vaccinated.

“As we have seen the effects of the Delta variant, and as we approach that 70% benchmark, we know that continued safety measures will be necessary to contain the spread of disease on our island,” Kawakami said.

The county recently instituted a citation system for emergency rule violations that includes fines of $250 for individuals and $500 for businesses or events.

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