Hawaii News Oahu to loosen COVID-19 restrictions for large events By Ashley Mizuo email@example.com Oct. 28, 2021 Mahalo for supporting Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Enjoy this free story! Honolulu Mayor's OfficeJAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARADVERTISER.COM Honolulu mayor Rick Blangiardi. Mayor Rick Blangiardi is loosening COVID-19 restrictions in Honolulu, starting with allowing more vaccinated people to gather at indoor and outdoor events, effective Wednesday. Read more Mahalo for reading the Honolulu Star-Advertiser! You're reading a premium story. Read the full story with our Print & Digital Subscription. Subscribe Now Read this story for free: Watch an ad or complete a survey Log In Already a subscriber? Log in now to continue reading this story. Activate Digital Account Print subscriber but without online access? Activate your Digital Account now. Mayor Rick Blangiardi is loosening COVID-19 restrictions in Honolulu, starting with allowing more vaccinated people to gather at indoor and outdoor events, effective Wednesday. The announcement comes as 86% of Oahu residents eligible for COVID-19 inoculation are fully vaccinated — 95% have received at least one dose — according state tallies, and the city has seen a decrease in hospitalizations, Blangiardi said. “We go forward carefully,” Blangiardi said during a Wednesday press conference held at Neal Blaisdell Center. “We go forward with love in our hearts and concern for our public, but we go forward.” Further, he said, “We’re going to do that in a very positive way.” Beginning Wednesday, the city plans to ease restrictions for large-scale managed events: >> Through the end of the year, indoor and outdoor seated entertainment events will be able to operate at full capacity, with all attendees vaccinated and masked. Concessions will be limited to water. Event venues include sports arenas and concert halls. >> Road races and triathlons will be allowed without capacity limitation. Participants must be vaccinated. There will be staggered start times for groups of 50 participants. Beginning Nov. 24, the staggered start group size will increase to 200 participants. Masks will not be required. >> Indoor “interactive events,” such as weddings and funerals, will be able to operate at 50% venue capacity, or a maximum count of 150 people (including employees), with everyone vaccinated. Food and beverages will be allowed, and masks required. Beginning Nov. 24, they may continue to operate at half capacity, however the maximum number of people will increase to 300. >> Outdoor interactive events will allow 500 up to people, with vaccination required. Food and beverages are allowed. Masks are required. On Nov. 24, they may operate at full capacity of the venue. >> Bars and other establishments offering or allowing liquor for on-premises consumption may sell, serve, and allow consumption of liquor consistent with their liquor license with normal operating hours. Currently, the sale of alcohol in the city is halted at midnight. Blangiardi stressed that for the sake of public health and safety, access to large-scale managed events will be largely limited to fully vaccinated individuals. Children under the age of 12 will be allowed to attend the managed events. “I don’t know how else we can tell people that they’re safe. Testing simply means you’re not sick yet,” Blangiardi said. “We’re just trying to make it as safe as possible.”… And requiring shots in arms “seems to be the key.” Blangiardi said that while the state agreed with the city administration’s decisions on the outdoor events, there was a difference of opinion in regard to staging indoor events. State health officials thought a more conservative approach would be appropriate, he said. “I think we’re in one of those conversations where we agreed to disagree, in a professional way,” Blangiardi said about his conversations with Gov. David Ige. “We understood the responsibility we could take,” he said. “So it was on us.” Blangiardi said while the city wants to expand capacity at bars, restaurants and gyms which are now operating at 50%, Honolulu Hale cannot make those adjustments without the approval from Ige. “I’m not sure what will trigger the decision to allow us to go to capacity,” Blangiardi said. Meanwhile, the city will continue monitoring the counts of COVID-19 cases that require hospitalization. If cases surge to the point of straining health care services, more restrictions would need to be put in place, Blangiardi said. Healthcare Association of Hawaii President Hilton Raethel noted that Hawaii has had among the lowest coronavirus infection rates in the country throughout the pandemic. “We have done the mask-wearing, we have done the social-distancing. And so many people have been vaccinated,” he said, adding, “We are very, very proud to be here.” University of Hawaii Athletic Director David Matlin said he’s excited about UH games soon being able to allow spectator attendance at full capacity. On Saturday, the UH football team welcomed spectators for the first time since before the pandemic surfaced last year, but under the city’s current rules for such an outdoor event, attendance was limited 1,000 people. “I walked around a lot and I saw a lot of fans, I saw a lot of smiles and joy, and we need joy in our life,” Matlin said. “I realize a lot of our student athletes, they’ve never played in front of the best fans in the country.” Blangiardi also announced that he would be extending the Safe Access O‘ahu program, which requires patrons at establishments such as bars, gyms and restaurants to show a proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test result within the last 48 hours, through the Christmas holiday. Asserting that the program has been “highly effective,” Blangiardi said, “It’s spurred, and there’s been research to support this, an increase in vaccinations. But it’s also a spurred activity in restaurants.” Moving forward, he said, the program will be evaluated as the city makes decisions about the status of COVID-19 restrictions slated for early 2022. Previous Story Central Pacific Bank triples earnings Next Story Kokua Line: Are face mask rules different on military bases?