HONOLULU (KHON2) — Videos and photos of people becoming lax on restrictions are being sent to the group Hawaii Quarantine Kapu Breakers. The group administrator said, it has been her busiest week in months with reports of restaurant violations, people not wearing masks and several large gatherings.
Honolulu has remained in Tier 2 since October, 2020, which has limited the number of people allowed inside most establishments to 50% and kept the maximum amount of people to gather at five.
Gatherings could increase to 10 people at Tier 3, and restaurants would be able to seat up to 10 people at a table.
Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi said, Oahu would only move forward and is considering easing restrictions based on people getting vaccinated.
The group that once reported visitor quarantine violations is now getting slammed with reports of residents and visitors breaking the rules already in place, however.
“This week has probably been one of the busiest weeks we’ve had in months,” explained Angela Keen, Hawaii Quarantine Kapu Breakers administrator. “It surprised me, it took me by surprise.”
She received reports of restaurants having after-hour parties with people singing karaoke and staff singing ‘Happy Birthday’ to customers without wearing masks. She said, restaurants violating the rules are hurting businesses who want to full re-open.
“We’ve received reports after reports on restaurant employees, restaurant patrons, and even the cooks and the chefs coming out into the dining area without any masks on, it doesn’t matter if they’re outside,” Keen explained.
The Department of Health’s latest cluster report found 47 COVID-19 cases linked to four restaurants; one on Oahu, and three restaurants on Maui.
Keen said, mask wearing is also another issue.
“It’s worse than it was before. You know, people say I’ve had COVID, I’ve had the vaccine, I tested negative, I don’t need to wear a mask,” she explained.
Lt. Gov. Josh Green said, people cannot let their guards down while people are getting vaccinated.
“If people stopped wearing masks, we could see another spike,” he said.
Keen said, the group has also received reports regarding youth sports with more than five people on the playing field and parents congregating in groups around the field.
“The largest risk about youth sports is it can be viewed as a cluster and people are all gathered,” explained Lt. Gov Green. “I trust our people; I think it’s probably time that we move forward and let youth sports start against too important to our families to not do that.”
Keen agreed but hopes people will be wearing their masks.
“It’s either put your mask on and open up at tier three, have the games returned, don’t gather, let’s do it. But if they don’t, we’ll just sit here at tier two forever, and tourism is going to struggle,” she said.
Both Keen and Lt. Gov. Green said issuing fines for people who do not wear masks in public would help keep COVID-19 case numbers down.
“We should have done that actually in special session three months ago, that would have been a much better way to go a $100 fine or so, rather than the misdemeanor charge, which is really not easily enforced,” Green said.
“Make it an easy $150 fine that a police officer or law enforcement can hand out and the people can pay that fine, then have that fine go to the county so that they get some benefit from these tickets,” Keen suggested.
“If people aren’t wearing their masks, we’re never going to get to Tier three and open back up,” she said.
The Hawaii Legislature is working on passing a bill that would require people to wear masks in public or receive a fine.