Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi said with COVID-19 case counts now trending downward, and vaccination rates edging upward, more pandemic-related restrictions could be lifted in coming months.
Speaking on the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s Spotlight Hawaii webcast today, Blangiardi said he was optimistic that more large-scale events could resume by early 2022. “Right now, I’m telling anybody, especially on events that after the first of the year, you should be planning on making that happen,” he said.
Meanwhile, Blangiardi said he expects that after the next University of Hawaii’s home football game — slated for Oct. 23, with up to 1,000 spectators in attendance — the UH will be able to sell more tickets for a Nov. 6 game at the Ching Complex at UH-Manoa.
Earlier this week, Blangiardi said he would push to expand participation in the Honolulu Marathon, scheduled for Dec. 12, to allow more than 10,000 people. A new rule starting this week caps road races at 500 participants.
Also, the mayor said today that he has talked with ESPN about the possibility of hosting the Hawaii Bowl game and a basketball tournament on the island, and noted that the movement toward allowing more large-scale events hinges on public health guidance provided by the state Department of Health.
“I’ve looked at the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) models. They look very favorable as far as the projections,” he said.
Last week, Blangiardi announced that starting today outdoor seated events could commence at either 50% capacity or up to 1,000 people. Indoor seated events can begin again on Oct. 20 at 50% capacity or up to 500 people. Outdoor interactive events such as weddings can also start again on Oct. 20 at 50% capacity or up to 150 people. All events would require proof of vaccination.
In regard to the city’s Safe Access Oahu program, which requires proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test in the last 48 hours for access to businesses such as restaurants, movie theaters and bars, Blangiardi said, “I don’t see it as a permanent.” He added, “We did that along with the cancellation of large social gatherings because that was being viewed as a source of communal spread. We took that measure, along with Safe Access Oahu, to avoid to being shut down.”
Despite recent relatively low counts of COVID cases, Blangiardi warned that Oahu would likely need to continue to live with COVID-19 as the pandemic may not come to a definitive end.
“Given the fact that about 106,000, people who are eligible … have not been vaccinated, we’re going to be talking about COVID cases for a while. It’s not going to go away,” he said. “This is not like a bad movie that simply ends. It will be here, it will be in our community.”