Ten liquor-serving establishments were cited and closed Saturday for failing to comply with the City and County of Honolulu’s COVID-19 restrictions.
The Honolulu Liquor Commission on Saturday shut down the Aloha Beer Company, Waikiki Brewing Company, Di’s Karaoke, Hibiscus Club, 8 Fat Fat 8, Aqua Lounge, Club Blue Star, Club Wave, Emerald City and Club Bonita during its first major enforcement of Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s recently heightened emergency orders.
Investigators said the establishments were in violation of Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s Emergency Order 2020-23, which closed Oahu bars for three weeks starting July 31.
Bars violating the order are subject to penalties and fines and will be at risk of losing their liquor licenses. The order also applies to restaurants, which are prohibited from selling and serving alcohol after 10 p.m. If found to be in violation after 10 p.m., they can be shut down by the Liquor Commission for 24 hours.
Aloha Beer Company and Waikiki Brewing Company will be allowed re-open after the 24-hour closure, but only for the purpose of retail/off-premises consumption sales.
Saturday’s action was Honolulu Liquor Commission’s first major enforcement of the Mayor’s Emergency Order 2020-23. Investigators said they observed a number of other locations that were improperly open; however, investigators were unable to reach them before they closed at 10 p.m.
The city said enforcement of the Mayor’s Emergency Order will be “ongoing and continuous.”
Caldwell said earlier that the three-week period would “give us enough time, working with our liquor inspectors to (develop) a way to beef up our ability to inspect bars in a way that we can target if someone is not following the protocols.”
Caldwell’s order followed announcements from the state Department of Health that multiple COVID-19 case clusters had come from gatherings at bars.
Still, the policy has drawn criticism from the Chamber of Commerce Hawaii and bar and restaurant owners, who object to a policy that also punishes compliant businesses.
“The decision to close all bars would add to the pain of too many business owners who are complying with guidelines,” Sherry Menor-McNamara, chamber president and CEO told the Star-Advertiser earlier.