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VIDEO: COVID-19 restrictions to end for all counties in Hawaii

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COURTESY MAYOR RICK BLANGIARDI / FACEBOOK
CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARADVERTISER.COM
                                Mayor Rick Blangiardi speaks today at Honolulu Hale as he announces the expiration of Safe Access Oahu at the end of Saturday.
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CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARADVERTISER.COM

Mayor Rick Blangiardi speaks today at Honolulu Hale as he announces the expiration of Safe Access Oahu at the end of Saturday.

CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARADVERTISER.COM
                                Mayor Rick Blangiardi speaks today at Honolulu Hale as he announces the expiration of Safe Access Oahu at the end of Saturday.

All four Hawaii counties have decided to drop their final COVID-19 restrictions that ranged from limiting gathering sizes to requiring vaccine or negative COVID-19 test result to enter certain business establishments.

Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi said at a news conference today that Safe Access Oahu, which requires people to show proof of a vaccine or a negative test to enter establishments such as restaurants would expire at 11:59 p.m. Saturday.

“This is a day we waited for, for the last two years,” he said. “We feel very confident that going forward, our numbers look really good for Oahu.”

Kauai County Mayor Derek Kawakami also announced that a similar program on the Garden Island would end Tuesday.

“I thank you all for your patience, your willingness to adapt at a moment’s notice, your innovative solutions, and your teamwork to overcome the most extraordinary and unprecedented challenges over the past two years,” Kawakami said. “While COVID-19 still exists, we have the knowledge and tools we need to keep ourselves, our families, and our community healthy and safe. Let’s not forget these best practices as we move forward together in our lives beyond COVID-19.”

And Hawaii County Mayor Mitch Roth said today that he has repealed the county’s limits for gatherings indoors and outdoors, and its approval process for “special gatherings,” effective this afternoon.

Maui County was the first county to end its COVID-19 restrictions, shutting down its vaccine or negative test requirements for people who wanted to enter certain businesses such as restaurants and gyms on Feb. 21.

Blangiardi said that for the first time since March 4, 2020, the City and County of Honolulu will not operate under an emergency order regarding COVID-19, starting Sunday.

Safe Access Oahu program required businesses — such as restaurants, fitness centers and events that served food — to verify employees and customers were fully vaccinated or had a negative COVID-19 test within the last 48 hours.

Since the omicron surge over the holidays, case numbers have steadily began to decrease over the last month. That combined with the amount of people vaccinated, and boosted has led the city to lift its final restrictions.

“The people of our island have fought back bravely against this, as the numbers reflect, everybody has done everything that they possibly could to demonstrate a genuine concern for take care of themselves, their families, in the greater good each other in all of us,” Blangiardi said.

Eighty-seven percent of Oahu’s population have initiated at least one dose of the vaccine, while 38% of people have received a booster shot.

The city will also begin ramping down isolation services for those who need a place to quarantine away from household members. The quarantine center at West Loch will close Tuesday, and the location at Harbor Arms Hotel will close at the end of March.

“Even though we’re letting our emergency order sunset, we understand that COVID is not over,” Blangiardi said. “But we’re gonna go forward living with this disease and we’ll try to act as responsibly as we can.”

Blangiardi also noted that while there are no immediate plans to end the city’s free COVID-19 testing sites, those will likely begin to ramp down service as time goes on.

The state’s indoor mask mandate will continue, as will the state’s vaccination or testing requirement for state and county government workers. Gov. David Ige announced Friday that masks will still be required through March 25, but said he would continue to evaluate the situation and consult the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines.

Hawaii is the only state that has not lifted, or announced the expiration, of indoor mask rules.

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Watch the news conference via the video above, or go to Mayor Blangiardi’s Facebook page.

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