UPDATE: 11:50 a.m.
Large events and gyms will be able to operate at full capacity on Oahu beginning on Dec. 1, Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi announced.
“This is not about restrictions,” Blangiardi said said today during a news conference updating the Safe Oahu Response plan. “This is about celebrating here, a moment in time that we’ve all worked hard to get to as the holidays approach.”
All large events will also be allowed to serve food and beverages, including alcohol, but those events will be subject to the Safe Access Oahu program that requires a proof of full vaccination status or a negative COVID-19 test within the last 48 hours. Currently, events can only be attended by those who are vaccinated, and a negative COVID-19 test is not accepted.
Under the loosened restrictions, restaurants will also no longer be required to conduct contact tracing.
Blangiardi said he was optimistic that Gov. David Ige would lift the 6-feet spacing requirement between tables at restaurants. Ige has a news conference scheduled for later today.
“We’ve recommended, and we’re very hopeful that he’ll make a statement on the six-foot distancing in restaurants, because we are allowing restaurants to operate at full capacity and have been,” Blangiardi said. “Smaller restaurants, really, so much of that is the fabric of our lives, the fabric of our neighborhoods. And we want to give license to that because they simply didn’t have the square footage to accommodate that kind of request.”
Safe Access Oahu will still be in place for gyms and restaurants, while gyms will still be required to enforce mask wearing.
Blangiardi said he expects that the Safe Access Oahu program would continue indefinitely.
“We’re gonna keep Safe Access Oahu on until we really feel that we’ve passed anything and everything we have to with respect to COVID,” he said. ”We want to get on the other side of the disease, especially here in Hawaii.”
The city will continue to monitor metrics such as hospitalization rates to determine if more restrictions need to be put back in place if there is another surge of disease after the holidays.
Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi is holding a news conference to discuss updates to the Safe Oahu Response plan, allowing more flexible operations for businesses, expanding the Safe Access Oahu program and eliminating certain restrictions.
Among the changes he announced:
>> Lifting capacity requirements for all large events;
>> Expanding the attendance to large events to include vaccine and testing;
>> Dropping requirements for contract tracing;
>> Keeping Safe Access for indoor gyms operating at full capacity but require mask wearing.
“We know that Safe Access Oahu works,” Blangiardi said.
Editor’s Note: This story is developing and will be updated as soon as more information becomes available.