Halloween “makes good sense”: Mayor says no county-specific rule is scheduled for October 31

By MICHAEL BRESTOVANSKY

Hawaii Tribune-Herald

Ghosts and ghouls can walk among the living on Halloween, as long as they avoid large groups and people-to-people contact, state and county officials said.

Mayor Mitch Roth said Monday he would not be making any county-specific rules for Halloween, instead encouraging families to simply “use common sense” to avoid spreading COVID-19.

“We’re just asking trick-or-treaters to stay in small groups, to maintain social distancing, not to knock on doors where the lights are out,” Roth said. “As long as people are doing what we’ve been doing, you should be fine.”

The state Department of Health released a list of Halloween safety tips on Monday, advising families how to celebrate Halloween without spreading COVID-19. This list of tips includes basic tips like ‘stay home if you feel sick’ and ‘wash your hands before eating candy’, but also recommends putting in some prepackaged treats for trick-or-treating. or-treaters to minimize contact and organize gatherings outside instead of inside.

The DOH also advises that Halloween costume masks are not a substitute for a sturdy nose cover and recommends that people incorporate COVID-mitigating masks into their costumes.

“Celebrating Halloween is a special event for families, and it’s safe to take steps to celebrate. Outdoor gatherings are safer and constant hand washing and mask wear are recommended, ”state health director Elizabeth Char said in a statement. “All children 12 and over can be immunized and it really is the best way to protect our children during Halloween and the next vacation.”

Roth and Char’s recommendations come a long way from last year, when Char and then-mayor Harry Kim urged residents to forgo traditional treat events altogether due to the spread of COVID.

But with the number of new cases of COVID statewide declining by the day – 117 new cases were reported statewide on Monday, including 29 on the Big Island – Roth said he made sense to continue to ease restrictions.

Roth recently announced new rules regarding the size of gatherings, increasing the maximum allowed size of outdoor gatherings from 10 to 25 people, with allowances for organized recreational gatherings of 50 people at outdoor facilities in the county. Tents and awnings are also permitted on beaches, and county lodges are usable with the appropriate user permits.

Roth’s latest rules do not include changes to the size of indoor gatherings, which remain limited to a maximum of 10 people. However, he said on Monday that he plans to increase the size of indoor gatherings soon: Starting November 1, he said, rally sizes will increase in county gyms and indoor parks, although ‘he did not specify by how much.

“We want people to move again,” said Roth, noting that increased physical activity leads to a stronger immune system.

On the other hand, the state and county should be careful not to open up too quickly, said Tim Brown, a researcher at the East-West Center at the University of Hawaii, in an interview broadcast in direct Monday.

“If we lift some restrictions and wait a few weeks and nothing changes, then we should take the next step,” Brown said. “Lifting the restrictions all at once would be potentially very dangerous. “

Brown said the state should continue to implement its Safe Travels program for visitors and residents as well as maintain all masking requirements for indoor spaces at least during the holidays.

“During the holidays, people tend to let their guard down, which gives the potential for the virus to spread, especially if families are reuniting or traveling from the mainland,” Brown said. “People should continue to mask themselves in public spaces as vaccination alone will not stop the transmission of Delta.”

Roth said there had been no further development regarding a travel program he proposed in September that would create a publicly accessible list of people who chose to quarantine themselves for 10 days rather than submit proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test from three days before arrival on the island.

However, Roth noted that the US Congress was considering a bill that would require domestic travelers to show proof of vaccination before boarding a flight. If this bill were to pass, it would render his proposed list moot.

Email Michael Brestovansky at [email protected]

Email Kelsey Walling at [email protected]

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