Gov. David Ige added a new incentive for people to get vaccinated against COVID-19 on Monday, announcing that restrictions on social gatherings and restaurants will be eased once 60% of the state’s population is fully inoculated.

Once that milestone is reached, state rules will allow for indoor gatherings of up to 25 people and outdoor gatherings of up to 75, he said. That would be an increase from the current limit of 10, although counties may have their own rules subject to the governor’s approval.

State officials also will allow restaurants to serve up to 75% of their capacity, up from the 50% capacity currently permitted.

“As Hawaii’s public health outcomes improve and our economic situation appears to be stabilizing, I am ending several of the emergency provisions that have been in place for over a year,” Ige said in a press release. “By August, I hope the public health situation will allow me to do the same for others.”

Customers sit at social distanced tables inside Fete Restaurant located in Chinatown during COVID-19 pandemic. October 26, 2020
Restaurants will be able to serve more guests if Hawaii reaches certain COVID-19 vaccination goals, Gov. David Ige announced Monday. Cory Lum/Civil Beat

The blueprint came three days after the governor said people will be allowed to travel between the islands without COVID-19 tests or quarantines beginning June 15.

He also said travelers from the mainland who can prove they were vaccinated in Hawaii will be able to skip the testing and quarantine protocols on that date, although those who were vaccinated in other U.S. states and territories will have to wait until the 60% target vaccination rate is reached.

If even more residents are vaccinated and the Aloha State reaches a 70% vaccination rate, all COVID-19 related rules will be lifted, including restrictions on gatherings and restaurants, Ige said.

By then, the Department of Health may also establish new, permanent rules for restaurants as it continues its oversight via the DOH Food Safety Branch, officials said.

The latest emergency proclamation related to COVID-19, signed by Ige on Monday, also officially marks the end to intercounty testing and quarantine rules at 11:59 p.m. on June 14.

Ige initially announced plans to lift restrictions on interisland travel Friday, along with other goals related to vaccination rates.

All travel restrictions will be erased when the state hits a milestone of 70% full immunization.

Currently 53% of all Hawaii residents are fully vaccinated. Approximately 100,000 more people will need to be fully inoculated in order to meet the 60% COVID-19 vaccination rate.

In a nod to concerns that the pace of vaccinations has slowed, Ige has said he would still consider lifting travel restrictions if COVID-19 infection rates are low.

Hawaii recorded an average of 49 new cases daily this week and 0.9% of all tests conducted yielded positive COVID-19 diagnoses.

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