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Hawaii officials eye lockdowns amid surge of delta variant

August 27, 2021 GMT
People gather on Waikiki Beach in Honolulu, Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2021. Hawaii was once seen as a beacon of safety during the pandemic because of stringent travel and quarantine restrictions and overall vaccine acceptance that made it one of the most inoculated states in the country. But the highly contagious delta variant exploited weaknesses as residents let down their guard and attended family gatherings after months of restrictions and vaccine hesitancy lingered in some Hawaiian communities.(AP Photo/Caleb Jones)
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People gather on Waikiki Beach in Honolulu, Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2021. Hawaii was once seen as a beacon of safety during the pandemic because of stringent travel and quarantine restrictions and overall vaccine acceptance that made it one of the most inoculated states in the country. But the highly contagious delta variant exploited weaknesses as residents let down their guard and attended family gatherings after months of restrictions and vaccine hesitancy lingered in some Hawaiian communities.(AP Photo/Caleb Jones)
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People gather on Waikiki Beach in Honolulu, Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2021. Hawaii was once seen as a beacon of safety during the pandemic because of stringent travel and quarantine restrictions and overall vaccine acceptance that made it one of the most inoculated states in the country. But the highly contagious delta variant exploited weaknesses as residents let down their guard and attended family gatherings after months of restrictions and vaccine hesitancy lingered in some Hawaiian communities.(AP Photo/Caleb Jones)

HONOLULU (AP) — As visitors continue to fly to Hawaii and locals go about their business, state officials say the islands may need to go into lockdown if the surge in COVID-19 delta variant cases continue to rise.

County mayors are asking for more restrictions, and Gov. David Ige told Hawaii News Now on Thursday that strict mandates are being considered.

If case counts continue to rise “and we push the hospitals across that line then we will have to go to more extreme measures, lockdowns and potentially shutting businesses,” Ige said.

Hawaii has had nearly 16,000 new infections in August amid a spike of cases that has repeatedly broken state records.

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On Friday, the state reported a record high 1,035 newly confirmed cases. There was a higher amount reported earlier this month, but it included cases from multiple days because of lab reporting delays.

Earlier this week, Ige asked that tourists stop coming to the islands. But he stopped short of enacting any formal restrictions on travel.

Big Island Mayor Mitch Roth announced new rules Friday that included a limit to the number of people who can gather indoors or out.

Roth’s original proposal included closing beaches and parks entirely, but instead the mandate limits group sizes to no more than 10 people and groups must maintain 20 feet of separation, the Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported Friday.

Park pavilions are closed, and tents are also prohibited.

Roth said enforcement efforts will be increased, and police can issue $250 citations to those who violate the emergency order.

The Ironman World Championship that was slated to be held in Kailua-Kona in October was postponed last week.

Maui Mayor Michael Victorino is waiting for state approval for his proposed restrictions. Victorino is asking residents to only do essential activities and is requesting that visitors voluntarily stay at their resorts and not visit the remote Hana coastline.