A federal judge denied a preliminary injunction today that would have reopened bars and nightclubs on Oahu. The establishments have been closed due to COVID-19 emergency orders by city and state officials.
The motion was in conjunction with a class-action suit by the owners of five Oahu bars filed in October against the state of Hawaii, the city and county of Honolulu, Gov. David Ige, state attorney general Clare E. Connors and Honolulu mayor Kirk Caldwell.
The suit seeks $50 million in damages. It claims the civil rights of bar owners have been violated, partly because they are forced to be closed while other establishments serving alcohol have been allowed to remain open during the pandemic.
After a hearing Wednesday, judge Leslie Kobayashi wrote that she was “presented with an agonizingly difficult decision … with substantial arguments to be made on both sides.”
She also wrote, though, that “an exacting and high standard” required to grant an injunction was not met.
Kobayashi added that the public safety aspect of the COVID-19 emergency orders factored into the decision.
“These governments are required to enact reasonable regulations and restrictions, not perfect ones,” she wrote.