Mayor Kirk Caldwell once again urged Oahu visitors and residents not to let down their guard, hold large gatherings or cluster in Waikiki on Halloween this Saturday due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Be different this one Halloween,” said Caldwell during an afternoon news conference Wednesday in front of the Waikiki police substation. “Spend time with those you love the most and celebrate the holiday that way. I want to emphasize no gatherings more than five, and no house parties. Please, no house parties.”
Caldwell said he learned last weekend that there was a baby luau on Oahu attended by about 130 people who gathered, with no physical distancing. Police had to break it up. In addition, Caldwell said a Halloween party was held on the slopes of Punchbowl, in violation of rules.
“Please don’t do this, folks,” said Caldwell, recalling the surge of COVID-19 cases following the Fourth of July, which spiked to 355 new daily cases in mid-August, and eventually led to Oahu’s second shutdown order.
Honolulu Police Department Chief Susan Ballard said on Halloween, there will be additional staffing islandwide, and officers will be out enforcing the rules.
“I can guarantee there will be a heavy presence not only in Waikiki but around the island,” she said. “We just ask people to please follow the rules, so we can get through this together.”
The rules will be enforced equally, she said, among visitors and residents alike.
Caldwell said Halloween can still be fun and safe, and suggested watching a spooky movie at home, hosting a Zoom costume party or carving a pumpkin with your family and displaying it out front.
One night of fun this Halloween can not only ruin the upcoming holidays, he warned, but can ruin the economy, and result in serious illnesses and deaths.
On Wednesday, the state Health Department reported 62 new coronavirus cases in Hawaii, including 41 on Oahu, bringing the statewide total since the start of the pandemic to 14,834 cases. No new deaths were reported for the third day this week.
The seven-day average for daily cases on Oahu on Wednesday was at 49, and the positivity rate at 2%.
Caldwell earlier this week sent letters to the general managers of 47 hotels that are currently open on Oahu, requesting their cooperation in enforcing the current emergency order to ensure a safe and healthy Halloween this year.
This includes limiting social gatherings to no more than five and enforcing physical distancing of at least 6 feet in shared spaces such as pool areas. Under the order, large events, parties and indoor haunted houses are not allowed.
Caldwell said those managers responded right away Wednesday afternoon, pledging their cooperation.
The mayor said hotel managers are also keeping an eye on whether local residents are reserving Waikiki hotel rooms for Halloween parties. Anyone violating social gathering rules can expect a knock on the door from security or the men and women in blue, he said.
Although groups of up to five people can go trick-or-treating house to house under the current order, Caldwell said he does not recommend it.
Traditional house-to-house trick-or-treating, where treats are personally handed out to children or offered via a shared bucket, is not recommended by the state Department of Health and U.S. Centers for Disease Control, which earlier this month urged people to choose safer alternatives.
“It may be permitted, but it’s not safe,” he said. “As mayor I’m asking families, moms and dads, significant others, single parents, do not encourage your children to trick-or-treat door to door, whether it’s groups of five or less. It’s just not safe this year.”
Caldwell said if people follow the rules on Halloween, he is hoping Oahu can get to Tier 3 of Honolulu’s reopening framework by Thanksgiving, which would allow for social gatherings of up to 10.
Caldwell was joined at the conference by HPD Chief Ballard, Chief Administrative Officer of the Hawaii Tourism Authority Keith Regan and Jerry Dolak, president of the Hawaii Hotel Visitor Industry Security Association.
Honolulu’s Halloween guidance is posted online at oneoahu.org.
Violations of COVID-19 rules can be reported to the HPD hotline at 723-3900 or to HPDcovidenforce@honolulu.gov.