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BREAKING: Ige announces new rules, gives counties more say over emergency orders

Gov. David Ige will relax more COVID-19 restrictions next week, ceding more power to the counties in making emergency orders as vaccination rates continue to rise and test positivity rates remain low statewide.

“Hawaii residents have worn their masks and avoided large gatherings, even important family events,” Ige said in a news release on Tuesday. “Most of our residents are vaccinated. We worked together to keep our communities as safe as possible during this pandemic. The State of Hawaii is now ready to move from overall state coordination back to the counties.”

Ige announced the following changes:

• As of Dec. 1, the counties will no longer be required to obtain the approval of the governor or the director of the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency prior to issuing county emergency orders, rules or proclamations. Counties will continue to have direct responsibility for emergency management within their respective counties.

• Ige’s executive order issued Nov. 2 on statewide limits for social gatherings, restaurants, bars, social establishments and gyms will end on Dec. 1. Counties will implement their own appropriate measures.

• Extensions for driver’s license renewals, instruction permits and replacements will end on Monday.

• Consistent with federal and state implementation of vaccination and testing policies, the state will no longer offer a critical infrastructure workers’ exemption to the 10-day travel quarantine. Exemptions for people who previously tested positive for COVID-19 and other exemptions will continue to be considered.

Once signed, the emergency proclamation will continue through Jan. 28 unless terminated or superseded by a separate proclamation.

Programs and rules that remain in effect include the Hawaii Safe Travels Program, the indoor mask mandate, the vaccination or testing requirements for state executive and county employees and the vaccination or testing requirements for contractors and visitors to state facilities.

For more on the story, see Wednesday’s edition of The Maui News.

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