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Honolulu to loosen COVID-19 restrictions starting next week

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Gov. David Ige and Mayor Rick Blangiardi held a joint press conference today to announce the return of “managed events” to Oahu next week, while mandating safety precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“We sincerely thank everyone who has received their vaccination and helped stop the surging COVID-19 numbers, reducing the pressure on our hospitals and healthcare workers,” said Mayor Blangiardi. “This is about acknowledging the efforts of the majority of our people who have done their part to keep our communities safe.

“I think it is now fair to say, we fully recognize we all need to learn to live with COVID-19, while we rebuild our local economy and balance our overall public health.”

Starting Wednesday, outdoor seated entertainment events, including sporting arenas and concert venues are allowed at 50 percent capacity, or a maximum of 1,000 attendees, whichever is less. All attendees must be vaccinated, masked, and physically distanced, and a mitigation plan is required. Other than water, no food or beverages will be allowed to be consumed. Those working at the event must comply with Safe Access Oahu protocols.

Children under 12 will not allowed to attend the University of Hawaii’s next home football game on Oct. 23, which will only allow friends and families of both teams and will not be charged admission, Blangiardi said.

“This is sort of a beta test,” Blangiardi said. Children under 12 might be allowed to attend the final two UH games and Blangiardi said he hopes that the general public will have the chance to buy tickets for 1,000 seats that are likely to be available at the 9,000-seat Ching Stadium.

In addition, Blangiardi announced:

>> Indoor UH Wahine volleyball matches will be limited to 500 fans with the same restrictions beginning Oct. 20. The same rules also kick in for other indoor seated entertainment venues.

>> The same day, outdoor interactive events, including traditional gatherings such as weddings and funerals, will be allowed at 50 percent capacity or a maximum of 150 vaccinated attendees and event staff, whichever is smaller, and all must be masked. A mitigation plan will be required. Food and beverages will be allowed, as is masked mingling and interaction. Those working at the event must comply with Safe Access Oahu protocols. Children will be allowed.

>> Golf tournaments will be allowed for fully vaccinated golfers starting on Wednesday. Safe Access Oahu limits must be followed for indoor events related to any golf tournaments.

>> Road races and triathlons will be allowed with a maximum of 500 vaccinated participants, with staggered starts of groups of no more than 25 people beginning Wednesday.

>> At bars and restaurants with valid liquor licenses, alcohol service will be extended to midnight, effective immediately.

Social gathering sizes for all other events will follow current guidelines of 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors.

“I look forward to the next couple of weeks,” Ige said.

But he emphasized, “This is not an all-clear signal. The pandemic is far from finished. Many members of our community, our family members, friends and colleagues are still severely ill, still hospitalized, and sadly, some are still dying.”

In August, Ige asked visitors to stay away through the end of October, just before the traditional holiday travel season typically begins.

Today, Ige said he is working with the visitor industry and will have a “more specific announcement next week. … We will definitely be working on a more consistent message.”

Editor’s Note: This story is developing and will be updated as soon as more information becomes available.

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