Gov. David Ige today announced the appointment of Max Otani

to serve as the director of the Department of Public Safety, effective Dec. 1, 2020.

Otani replaces Nolan Espinda, who retired in September.

“With Max taking the helm at Public Safety, I am confident that we can continue moving forward with initiatives set in motion by PSD’s previous director, Nolan Espinda and acting director Fred Hyun,” said Gov. Ige.

Otani is currently a board member for the Hawai‘i Paroling Authority (HPA). He has worked in a variety of positions in the state’s corrections and judicial systems for more than three decades. Otani began his criminal justice career with the Judiciary, as a Family Court officer and Circuit Court probation officer from 1985 to 1987. From there, he served more than two decades with the HPA in various positions. Otani became the Oahu Intake Services Center manager from 2003-2005, before he was promoted to Intake Service Center Division Administrator from 2011-2013. He then moved on to become PSD’s deputy director for Corrections from 2013-14, before returning to his previous position as administrator of the Intake Service Center Division, where he remained until his retirement from PSD in 2016.

“During his career in corrections, Max initiated evidence-based practices with the incarcerated, parole and pretrial populations in efforts to reduce recidivism,” said Acting Director Fred Hyun. “He brings a wealth of knowledge to the job and I look forward to working with him in his new position.”

“I would like to thank Governor Ige for the opportunity to return to work with the Department of Public Safety. I look forward to working with staff, other agencies and community partners to address the needs of the department,” said Otani.

Acting Director Hyun will return to his position as the chair of the HPA, effective Dec. 1, 2020. He will remain on board as Special Master, appointed by the governor, until Dec. 30 — to complete the assessment of the Department of Public Safety.

“I’d like to thank Fred for stepping in to oversee the department during this transition period. COVID-19 is putting a huge burden on PSD’s overcrowded and aging correctional facilities. Once Fred reports his findings, I am confident he and Max will work together to address areas of concern and prioritize mitigation measures that will enable the department to operate more effectively,” said Gov. Ige.

Otani’s was born and raised in Hilo, Hawai‘i. He is a graduate of Hilo High School and the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo. Otani also attended the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa where he earned a master’s in social work.

Otani’s appointment is subject to Senate confirmation.

Kaua‘i mayor to impose temporary moratorium on its participation in

state’s pre-travel testing program

All transpacific, inter-county travelers to Kaua‘i subject to 14-day quarantine starting Dec. 2

Gov. David Ige has approved Kaua‘i Mayor Derek Kawakami’s request to place a temporary moratorium on Kaua‘i’s participation in the state’s pre-travel testing program. Effective Dec. 2 at 12:01 a.m., all transpacific and intercounty travelers arriving in Kaua‘i are subject to the 14-day quarantine regardless of testing.

“The unprecedented surge of COVID-19 cases on the mainland and the rise in community spread on Kaua‘i are of significant concern for the Garden Isle. We must protect Kaua‘i residents and visitors and ensure that Kaua‘i’s hospitals do not become overwhelmed,” said Gov. Ige. “Kaua‘i county currently has the fewest number of ICU beds in the state, and private providers are seeking ways to increase capacity. This moratorium aims to stabilize the situation on Kaua‘i.”

“I’d like to thank Gov. Ige for approving Emergency Rule 23, temporarily pausing Kaua‘i’s participation in the state’s pre-travel testing program. Given the national surge of COVID cases on the mainland, Kaua‘i is unable to adequately protect itself by utilizing the Safe Travels program at this time,” said Mayor Kawakami. “Our travel related cases are now leading to community spread across our island. This temporary pause in travel will allow us to remain in Tier 4 as long as possible, keeping youth sports playing and businesses open as we conduct surge testing and contact tracing. I will gladly repeal the moratorium once we have the virus under control again.”

The County of Kaua‘i’s modified quarantine program will remain in place for critical infrastructure workers, essential medical travel, or other special circumstances. To apply for a modified quarantine, please visit and click on the “modified quarantine request” button at the top of the page.

The pre-travel testing program remains in place for all other counties.

Rule 23 will be posted at

Mayor Kawakami requests to opt-out of Safe Travels program after dozens of known

COVID-19 cases reach Kaua‘i

On Tuesday, Mayor Derek S.K. Kawakami forwarded to Gov. David Ige proposed Mayor’s Emergency Rule 23, which would temporarily pause Kaua‘i’s participation in the state’s Safe Travels pre-travel testing program and require incoming travelers to Kaua‘i to quarantine for the full 14 days regardless of testing.

“We are facing alarming COVID-19 numbers on our island as well as across the nation,” said Mayor Kawakami. “This is not just a tourist problem. Nearly half of our recent travel cases are Kaua‘i residents who returned home. We know that a single, pre-travel test has not stopped the virus from reaching our island and we are saddened to report our first on-island death. We must take action to prevent the further spread of disease here.”

In an attempt to avoid reverting back to a mandatory 14-day quarantine, Mayor Kawakami proposed Rule 21 last Monday, which would have required incoming Kaua‘i travelers to take a post-travel test after 72 hours on island with a shorter quarantine period. However, this second-test proposal has not received approval, further prompting the Mayor to propose Rule 23 to temporarily opt-out of the state’s Safe Travels program.

“Since the launch of the single pre-travel testing program on October 15, we have confirmed 58 new cases and our first on-island death,” said Dr. Janet Berreman, Kaua‘i District Health Officer. “Forty-eight of those cases were travelers—27 visitors and 21 residents. Most of them had a negative pre-travel test, but still came down with COVID here on Kaua‘i. The other 10 cases, in residents who did not travel, are an even greater cause for alarm. Four of these are residents who were in close contact with travelers. The other six are residents for whom we cannot identify any link to a traveler—these are cases of community transmission. We have not seen sustained community transmission in our county since July, so these cases are very concerning. It is clear that the Safe Travels program is not adequately protecting Kaua‘i from an alarming rise in cases.”

Mayor Kawakami added that a temporary opt-out of the Safe Travels program would allow the island to remain in Tier 4 – the least restrictive tier – for as long as possible.

“Opting out of the Safe Travels program would be independent of our tier system, which means we could stay in Tier 4 for a longer period of time,” said Mayor Kawakami. “It makes no logical sense for us to move tiers while still allowing more travelers. We shouldn’t penalize our local people by restricting activities, such as youth sports, when that’s not the current source of infection.”

“I don’t propose to know how to best manage the other counties or the state as a whole. But our small, rural community here on Kaua‘i needs to take pause from an influx of travelers, and once again gain control of this virus as we had for so many months before. I will gladly repeal the rule once we achieve this goal,” added Mayor Kawakami.

If approved, Rule 23 would take effect on December 1, 2020, at which point all incoming travelers, including residents and visitors from the mainland and neighboring counties would be subject to a 14-day mandatory quarantine, regardless of testing.

The county’s modified quarantine program would remain in place for critical infrastructure workers, essential medical travel, or other special circumstances. To apply for a modified quarantine, please visit and click on the “modified quarantine request” button at the top of the page.

To view the Kaua‘i COVID-19 tier tracker, post-travel testing information, and general information, visit For more State of Hawai‘i case tracker and information on the Safe Travels program, visit

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