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Hawaii NewsLee Cataluna

Lee Cataluna: Reopening is great but rules still confusing

Karaoke bars can open in Honolulu, but there’s no singing allowed.

Nightclubs are OK to open but nobody can dance.

You can go out to a bar with your friends, but you can’t mingle with other parties.

We are living in strange times when the local government has to issue orders to prevent mingling. What’s a bar without mingling? You may not be much of a mingler, but if you’re told you can’t mingle, that almost makes the urge to mingle rise up in your soul just to be defiant. (Resist mingling!)

This unlocking of the lockdown is confusing, frustrating and filled with situational irony.

The recent order from the City and County of Honolulu almost reads like that song Howard Jones sang in the ’80s:

“You can look at the menu, but you just can’t eat

You can feel the cushion, but you can’t have a seat

You can dip your foot in the pool, but you can’t have a swim

You can feel the punishment, but you can’t commit the sin”

To be clear, those are the lyrics in italics, not the recent City and County order, though the feeling of frustration may be the same.

Bars can have live music but no wind instruments.

An entertainer can play guitar at a nightclub but not sing along to the tune.

Soccer teams can practice, but physical distancing of 6 feet or more between players must be maintained, so … no defense, right? Also, it is specifically written into the order regarding outdoor sports, “No close contact activities, including, but not limited to, huddles, high fives, and handshakes,” and, “There is no socializing in groups before or after” a sports program.

Group-texting “good game, good game” just doesn’t have the same feeling of camaraderie, does it?

But also, as Howard Jones sang in that ’80s classic, no one is to blame. The process of getting back to some semblance of normal life while COVID-19 is still around us really has no precedence, and even experts are figuring out stuff as they go.

The reasons behind all these various situational ironies make sense, mostly. COVID-19 is thought to be spread by respiratory droplets, and those droplets can potentially be increased and carried by propulsion when a person is singing or, I guess, blowing the heck out of a horn. The measures to prevent mingling are meant to allow bars and restaurants to open while minimizing the spread of the virus. It’s not good if one person spreads the virus to nine friends, but it’s worse if one person is being super sociable and doing some unmitigated mingling and spreading it to everyone in the establishment.

But even though the rules are thoughtful and careful — like requiring that every article of clothing a customer tries on in a store dressing room but doesn’t end up buying to be quarantined for at least 24 hours before it’s returned to the sales floor — if they sound like the lyrics to an ’80s song, they’re a little weird.

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