Spectators will once again be allowed on the sidelines to watch their family and friends play outdoor sports, a loosening of COVID-19 restrictions on Oahu that is sure to please parents who have been relegated to their cars as they try to catch glimpses of their kids playing sports like soccer and baseball.
Mayor Rick Blangiardi and Gov. David Ige made the announcement Monday following complaints by parents as well as U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz.
The city began issuing permits for outdoor youth sports at public parks more than a month ago, but no spectators or family members were allowed in the vicinity. Blangiardi said he was not aware of any coronavirus cases tied to these activities since they resumed.
“Now that the participants have been allowed to return to play, and done so safely, the logical next step is to allow for spectators,” he said in a news release.
Spectators still will be required to wear masks if they are within 6 feet of people who are not in their household. Groups cannot be larger than 10 people, and socializing and potlucks on the court or field before and after the activities are prohibited.
“I know how important this step is to young athletes, parents, as well as their families and friends,” Ige said in a statement. “We believe people know what the rules are and will follow them to keep their loved ones safe, allowing us to resume these types of long-awaited activities.”
Last week Schatz sent Ige a letter urging him to lift restrictions on youth sporting events, including rules that prohibited parents from watching their kids play outdoor games.
“We already allow people on beaches, we allow gatherings in bars, and we permit other outdoor activities, but we inexplicably do not allow parents and guardians to watch their own kids play sports outside in the sunshine and open air,” Schatz wrote.
Schatz also urged the governor to reevaluate prohibitions against youth surfing competitions and outrigger canoe races, though the governor has yet to announce any changes.
Schatz, in a statement following Monday’s announcement, called it “great news for families and for public health.”
“Outdoor exercise is just about the healthiest thing that can be done, pandemic or not. And watching your kids play a sport is one of the great joys of life. Lots of families are thankful for this change,” Schatz said. “We look forward to additional announcements regarding ocean sports.”