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Column: We need Safe Access O‘ahu to protect residents, businesses

Connie Lau
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Connie Lau

Ray Vara
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Ray Vara

Peter Ho
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Peter Ho

Connie Lau
Ray Vara
Peter Ho

Mayor Rick Blangiardi is leading Oahu through a critical time. Hawaii is struggling with an alarming surge in COVID-19 cases that is dangerously close to overwhelming our health-care system. Our hospitals are functioning well, but they are at capacity. Mayor Blangiardi took immediate action to prevent a necessary lockdown and keep our community safe with his decision to implement Safe Access O‘ahu.

Beginning Sept. 13, for a period of 60 days, everyone will be required to show proof of vaccination in order to enter certain indoor public establishments, such as restaurants, gyms and museums. If you are not vaccinated, you may show a negative test taken in the last 48 hours, and employees of public establishments who are unvaccinated will be tested weekly.

All of us have a personal responsibility to help stop the spread of COVID-19. While you are safest with your immediate family and within your social bubble, new guidelines on gatherings are also keeping us safe. Indoor gatherings are limited to 10 people or fewer, compared to the previous limit of 25 for most counties, and outdoor gatherings are limited to 25 people, down from 75.

These precautions, along with Safe Access O‘ahu, enable us to combat the delta variant and recover faster.

As executives of a diverse cross-section of Hawaii’s industries — education, finance, health-care, philanthropy, energy, hospitality and state government — we’ve seen the impact of the pandemic throughout every facet of the community. Our hui is driven by the commitment we feel to our neighbors, families and friends. Lives are at stake, and our community can only succeed together.

From the start of the pandemic, we’ve advocated for providing clear direction and confidence backed by scientific data, experts and a strategic plan. Like all of us, Mayor Blangiardi is trying to make the best possible decision rooted in facts and with support from experts to protect the health of our residents, businesses and our economy.

Safe Access O‘ahu ensures that patrons and employees of high-risk, enclosed-space venues are protected by either vaccination or negative test, ensuring safer environments and reducing transmission. The program provides additional incentive for Oahu residents to get vaccinated, which is the best way for us to beat the pandemic.

In the week leading up to the start of the program, we must encourage the unvaccinated to get vaccinated and all heed the advice that helped us curb community spread in months past — wear your mask, maintain physical distance, wash your hands and stay home when you’re sick. Without preventive actions, we’ll struggle to reduce record-breaking case counts.

While these unprecedented times have challenged us, they have also brought out the best in us. Innovations, strategic alliances and smart, expedient solutions are helping us stabilize public health and our economy. Safe Access O‘ahu is the right step toward sustained recovery and an encouraging reminder that the responsibility for reestablishing activities we love rests in our own hands.

We want everyone to be safe and get the care they need. Safe Access O‘ahu is the measure we need now to get public health back on track.


This was submitted on behalf of the Hawaiʻi COVID Collaborative. Members are: Peter Ho, Bank of Hawaii; Connie Lau, Hawaiian Electric Industries; Ray Vara, Hawaiʻi Pacific Health; Carl Bonham, UHERO; Jill Hoggard-Green, The Queen’s Health Systems; Micah Kane, Hawaiʻi Community Foundation; Mark Mugiishi, Hawaiʻi Medical Service Association; Scott Saiki, House speaker, Hawaii Legislature; and Naʻalehu Anthony, COVID Pau.


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