City and tourism officials this afternoon announced the unveiling of new COVID-19 safety banners gracing 36 lampposts along the main stretch of Kalakaua Avenue in Waikiki.
The banners, which begin at the Hawai‘i Convention Center, include visuals and words reminding people to “Wear Your Mask,” “Watch Your Distance” and “Wash Your Hands” along with the words “Live Aloha!” at the bottom.
The new banners resulted from a partnership between the city and the Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association as part of a campaign to remember those three “Ws” in the battle against COVID.
“Waikiki is such an important jewel in the composition of our city and so these banners are not only for tourists but for our residents to remind people of the basics as we fight each and every day to get back to a place of normalcy,” said Blangiardi. “We’re very grateful for the partnership that took place. This is one of the most efficient things we’ve been able to do and it’s so appropriate.”
Mufi Hannemann, president and CEO of HLTA, said during his daily strolls of Waikiki, when he verbally reminds people of the rules, he can now point up and say, “Hey, look what those banners say.”
The banners cost an estimated $9,000, he said, with about two-thirds of it funded by federal coronavirus aid funds. The city footed installation costs, while HLTA assisted with the design.
Honolulu Police Department Deputy Chief John McCarthy welcomed the banners, saying it would help officers do their jobs gaining compliance with COVID-19 rules.
“We want to gain compliance,” he said. “We don’t want to be the bad guys arresting everyone or citing everyone. Now officers can point, making clear what people need to do.”
McCarthy could not say how many citations have been issued for non-compliance with mask wearing in Waikiki, saying HPD does not keep those statistics, but that it is far less than at the beginning of the pandemic.
Based on his observations driving around Waikiki these days, he said compliance was at nearly 100%.
Under Honolulu County rules, masks must be worn at all times when indoors, and outdoors when a 6-foot distance can not be maintained from those outside of one’s household — regardless of whether one has been tested or vaccinated or not.
Blangiardi also said he was encouraged by the lower coronavirus case numbers for Oahu over the past few days.
He will see what numbers look like following Super Bowl Sunday, and hopes to propose the easing of restrictions in late February. Gov. David Ige and state Health Department Director Dr. Elizabeth Char, however, ultimately make those decisions, he said.