Citing the downward trend among Coronavirus case counts and hospitalizations, as well as the rise in vaccinations statewide, the Healthcare Association of Hawai'i expressed support for Gov. David Ige's plan to relax COVID-related restrictions.
Hilton Raethel, the nonprofit's president, said he and several hospital heads sent a statement backing the move Wednesday evening.
Michelle Maldonado, the owner of Rajanee Thai Hale'iwa, is hopeful the adjustments will allow eateries to increase capacity and table sizes.
The family-run restaurant opted to provide takeout service only, and not no dine-in option because having to screen patrons for their vaccination status or test results was too taxing.
However, Maldonado said the community has helped the business through these uncertain times.
"Regardless of how folks may feel politically or personally, in the end, we are definitely, here on the North Shore, seeing a lot more understanding and caring coming from the community," Maldonado said.
Not all are eager to see the rules loosened.
Elena Cabatu, a spokesperson for the Hilo Medical Center, said the facility is still overwhelmed with COVID patients.
At the peak of the case surge, the hospital had about 40 active COVID patients, now, it houses 10 active patients and 12 post-COVID.
"We're still talking about 22 people in the hospital that have been affected by COVID so although our numbers are less, much less, we still have a bunch of patients that we are taking care of and they're very sick," Cabatu explained.
Another cause for concern, Cabatu said, is the Big Island's 5 percent positivity rate, the highest in the state.
"In addition to that we have pockets on Hawai'i Island that are unvaccinated and we have some work to do, they're at about 35 and 45 percent vaccinated so we really want those numbers to increase," Cabatu added.
Raethel argued the current numbers are promising and while variants may emerge in the future, there is no evidence of any right now.
"That is why we continue to push for vaccinations because the more we can contain the spread of the Coronavirus, the less chance there is for the development of these variants," Raethel said.
No concrete plans on loosened restrictions have been made yet -- Ige is expected to make an announcement by the end of the week.