Bars on Oahu are now allowed to serve alcohol two hours longer — until midnight — after Gov. David Ige and Mayor Rick Blangiardi eased COVID-19 restrictions across Honolulu.
Proof of vaccinations and testing, physical distancing and masks indoors, in general, are still being required.
The less restrictive limits began Friday night for bars and will kick in at other venues starting Wednesday for activities including “outdoor seated entertainment,” which do not include weddings or funerals. New rules for weddings and funerals go into effect Oct. 20.
The loosened limits, for the first time this season, allow for 1,000 friends and family to attend the next University of Hawaii home football game on Oct. 23 and up to 500 to attend indoor UH Wahine volleyball matches starting Oct. 20 — under the category of “indoor seated entertainment.”
Only water will be served at UH sporting events, and no food — or children — will be allowed, at least initially.
The 1,000 friends and family from both teams at the UH football game will not be charged admission, Blangiardi said.
Children under 12 might be allowed to attend the final two UH football games, and Blangiardi said he hopes that the general public will have the chance to buy tickets for the 1,000 seats that are likely to be available at the 9,000-seat Ching Complex for the final two games.
Blangiardi called the first game to allow fans “sort of a beta test.”
How the less restrictive rules for Oahu affect the spread of COVID-19 will be closely monitored, Blangiardi said.
With restrictions eased for Oahu, Ige said, “I look forward to the next couple of weeks.”
But Ige emphasized that “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.”
As the peak of the delta variant appears to be over, Ige said he also plans to sign loosened restrictions for Maui and Kauai and is working with Hawaii County Mayor Mitch Roth on what might lie ahead for the Big Island.
Although crowd sizes on Oahu will be increased, everyone must be vaccinated or show proof of a negative test, maintain physical distances (except at weddings and funerals) and wear masks while indoors.
Also under the new rules:
>> Starting Wednesday, “outdoor seated entertainment events,” including concert venues, will be allowed at 50% capacity, or a maximum of 1,000 attendees, whichever is less. Those working at an event must comply with Safe Access O‘ahu protocols, which include proof of vaccination or a negative test.
>> On Oct. 20, outdoor “interactive events” such as weddings and funerals will be allowed at 50% capacity or a maximum of 150 vaccinated attendees and event staff, whichever is smaller. Everyone must be masked. Food and beverages will be allowed, along with masked mingling and interaction. Those working at a wedding or funeral must comply with Safe Access O‘ahu protocols.
Asked whether children are allowed at outdoor weddings, Blangiardi gave a conflicting answer.
“Not for outdoor weddings, no,” he said. “Although I mean, yeah, I don’t know how many kids are going to be at an outdoor wedding, but there will be some. … It’s family and flower girl, of course. How can you have a wedding without a flower girl?”
>> Golf tournaments will be allowed for fully vaccinated golfers starting Wednesday. Safe Access O‘ahu limits must be followed for indoor events related to any golf tournaments, such as dining.
>> 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.
>> Social gathering sizes for all other events will continue to be limited to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors.
“We sincerely thank everyone who has received their vaccination and helped stop the surging COVID-19 numbers, reducing the pressure on our hospitals and health care workers,” Blangiardi said. “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.”
In August, Ige asked visitors to stay away from Hawaii through the end of October, just before the traditional holiday travel season typically begins.
On Friday, Ige said he is working with the visitor industry and will have a “more specific response and announcement next week, for sure. … We will definitely be working on a consistent message that we want to broadcast to our travel partners all around the world.”