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Labor Day weekend to test Oahu’s ‘social gathering’ ban

  • JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARADVERTISER.COM
                                Large gatherings on the Memorial Day and Fourth of July holidays were suspected of increasing COVID-19 cases across the country. Above, tents lined the beach’s edge on July 3 at Kapiolani Park in Waikiki.

    JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARADVERTISER.COM

    Large gatherings on the Memorial Day and Fourth of July holidays were suspected of increasing COVID-19 cases across the country. Above, tents lined the beach’s edge on July 3 at Kapiolani Park in Waikiki.

The three-day Labor Day weekend represents a major test of how people across Oahu comply with — or ignore — Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s ban on nearly all indoor and outdoor social gatherings to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Regarding social gatherings, the order is clear and detailed:

“Indoor and outdoor social gatherings of any type and any number of people are prohibited,” according to the order. “For purposes of this order, a ‘social gathering’ is a gathering or event that brings together persons from multiple households or living units at the same time for a discrete, shared or group experience in a single room, space, or place such as a private home, park, auditorium, stadium, arena, conference room, lunch room, meeting hall, or other indoor or outdoor space.”

The order can be found at 808ne.ws/2QPGKGi.

With some exceptions, the order also requires everyone to stay away from people outside of their households, wear masks indoors and out and maintain social distancing.

Honolulu police have been receiving reports of violations at a rate of over 100 phone calls and a couple of dozen emails every day at 723-3900 and HPDCOVID enforce@honolulu.gov, HPD spokeswoman Michelle Yu wrote in an email to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

Asked about police staffing, Yu wrote that “The COVID enforcement teams will be working over the weekend. The hotline will be staffed as well.”

Large gatherings on the Memorial Day and the Fourth of July holidays are suspected of fueling a second surge of COVID-19 cases across the country, including a recent wave of triple- digit infections on Oahu.

Caldwell’s order also means that even family members who live in different homes are not allowed to visit one another. There are exceptions for nonfamily visits for essential services such as child care, health care and deliveries of food and medical supplies.

The order also states that, “All persons may leave their residences only for essential activities, essential governmental functions, or to operate or visit essential businesses… .”

Caldwell’s stay-at-home, work-from-home order went into effect on Aug. 27 and is scheduled to run through Wednesday, following the three-day weekend.

The order says that its intent “is to ensure that the maximum number of people self-isolate in their places of residence to the maximum extent feasible, while enabling essential services to continue, to slow the spread of COVID-19 to the maximum extent possible.”

There is an exception for “in-person spiritual serv­ices,” which have no attendance limits to accommodate constitutional guarantees of religious freedom. But a family unit must stay together during a service and family members are not allowed to interact with other attendees and maintain 6 feet of distance from nonfamily members. Caldwell’s order urges caution for singing and the playing of wind instruments.

Other provisions of Caldwell’s order also mean that:

>> County and state beach parks remain off- limits on Oahu, but people are allowed to cross through beach parks to engage in ocean activities. Fishing is restricted to groups of two.

>> State and county trails also remain closed on Oahu, along with a ban on hiking on undeveloped county and state lands.

>> Funerals and burials can have as many as 10 people. Mourners should wear masks and maintain social distances from nonfamily members.

Click here to see our full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak. Submit your coronavirus news tip.

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