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Modifications to Oahu Tier 3 allow bars to reopen

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    Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi on Thursday announced modifications to the Tier 3 reopening plan, including the resumption of outdoor youth sports on April 12 and allowing bars to reopen under the same conditions as restaurants.

                                <strong>“This is for our kids and even for those adults … playing sports.”</strong>
                                <strong>Mayor Rick Blangiardi</strong>


    “This is for our kids and even for those adults … playing sports.”

    Mayor Rick Blangiardi

Bars will be allowed to reopen under the same conditions as restaurants, funerals will no longer have restrictions on the number of attendees and businesses will be allowed to serve alcohol until midnight.

Structured events, such as graduations and seminars, are also now permitted, as long as 6-foot distancing is maintained.

Outdoor youth sports will resume April 12 with no spectators or potlucks. Outdoor adult sports will restart April 19.

“This is for our kids and even for those adults … playing sports,” Mayor Rick Blangiardi said.

“It would be good to get out and play, and save it for another day to play in front of the big crowds.”

Participants will be required to wear masks at all times, even while playing.

To streamline the permitting process, Honolulu Parks and Recreation Director Laura Thielen said the city would temporarily not charge any fees. She encouraged teams to start calling park staff to begin reserving fields and courts.

However, permits will be revoked for teams that do not follow the safety guidelines. Those who do not abide by the rules will receive two verbal or written warnings from the city, then a suspension of the permit before it is revoked.

“We do not want to revoke a single permit,” Thielen said. “We want everybody to be out playing.”

The Honolulu Police Department will do surveillance at park fields and observe teams playing to ensure that the safety guidelines are being followed, Blangiardi said.

When asked whether the police could handle the extra enforcement, an HPD spokesman said, “While officers will be responding to reports of violations, we are confident that the majority of people will follow the restrictions for their own safety and the safety of others.”

Indoor sports will not be permitted until Oahu moves to Tier 4, which would require the seven-day average new case count to remain below 20 and the island’s seven-day positivity rate to stay under 1% for two weeks.

Hawaii Youth Soccer Association President and Executive Director Scott Keopuhiwa was excited to start planning for a spring soccer season.

“I think most of our clubs will probably have a couple weeks of training before we get right back into games because we want to do things in a safe manner,” he said.

“We don’t want your kids to just jump into games after not having played for over a year. That’ll just lead to injuries.”

He expected games to start about two weeks after April 12 for children 13 to 19 years old. The younger age bracket that includes 8- to 12-year-olds has already missed its game season, but Keopuhiwa said he is working on something for those children as well.

The start date for outdoor sports was supposed to be March 22 but was postponed to account for schools reopening on the same date.

District 1 Councilwoman Andria Tupola, who worked with Blangiardi to restart sports, emphasized the need to adjust to new information such as the availability of vaccines, which was not available when the tier system was created in September.

“I am just very grateful that these concerns and this advocacy did not fall on deaf ears. Some previous administrations may or may not have entertained those concerns,” she said.

“The needs are changing, and we need to quickly adapt and be able to provide a path of advocacy.”

No modifications were made to weddings, which can still have only 10 people in attendance.

Blangiardi explained that weddings should be treated differently from funerals.

“Funerals are not scheduled events; people are dying, and we want to be able to go about life with the right way of treating that experience,” he said.

“Weddings, on the other hand, are celebratory, and a lot of other things that right now it’s just a bridge too far.”

However, the wedding industry has taken a hit due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Julie Aragaki, who owns Best Hawaii Wedding, a company that does property management and event coordination for weddings, has seen the number of bookings plummet in the last year.

“On average, we do 300-plus weddings a year,” she said.

“Right now — I just looked at the books — I think we have about 100 within 2021. But a lot of them were just weddings that were postponed to this year.”

In Tier 4 the number of people allowed to gather will go to 25 from 10.

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