Honolulu begins easing COVID19-related restrictions as new case counts decline

by Alfred Acenas (EBC Hawaii-Pacific)
Eagle News Service

HONOLULU (Eagle News) – For the month of October, the City and County of Honolulu will once again allow managed events with updated safety guidelines as new cases of COVID-19 continue to trend downward and more people are getting vaccinated.

Beginning October 13, outdoor seated entertainment events, including sporting arenas and concert venues, will be allowed at 50% capacity or a maximum of 1,000 attendees (whichever is smaller); while golf tournaments will be allowed with 100% of participants vaccinated. In addition, road races and triathlons will be allowed with a maximum of 500 vaccinated participants, and staggered starts of groups with no more than 25 people.

(FILE) Shopping malls like this one outside Honolulu continue to require patrons to comply with the city’s health and safety guidelines in order to dine at their food courts. (Photos by Alfred Acenas, EBC Hawaii-Pacific)

Beginning October 20, indoor seated entertainment venues will be capped at 50% capacity or a maximum of 500 attendees (whichever is smaller).

Also starting October 20, outdoor interactive events, including traditional gatherings such as weddings and funerals, will be allowed at 50% capacity or a maximum of 150 attendees (who are vaccinated) and event staff (whichever is smaller) who are masked.

In all situations, attendees must be vaccinated, masked, and physically distanced. Other than water, no food or beverages will be allowed. Those who are working at the event (employees, contractors, vendors, etc.) must comply with Safe Access O‘ahu protocols. Organizers must also provide a mitigation plan.

“Hospitals are still busy, but we have reached a point where hospital census should no longer be a leading indicator of the need for restrictions,” said Hilton Raethel, president and chief executive officer of the Healthcare Association of Hawaii. “Hawaii hospital leadership believes that it is time for state and county leaders to consider steps to open up safely for business.”

“This is about acknowledging the efforts of the majority of our people who have done their part to keep our communities safe,” Mayor Rick Blangiardi stated. “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.”

“The easing of restrictions is a direct result of our community working together in the best interest of public health and safety,” Governor David Ige emphasized. “However, this is not an ‘all clear’ and the pandemic is far from over.”

Governor Ige continued, “With input from public health specialists, we continue to determine the amount of risk we can accept in easing restrictions in a measured way. Our goal is to safely manage our health care/public health infrastructure with the continued presence of COVID-19, while working to rebuild a robust economy.”

Guidelines remain unchanged for social gathering sizes for all other events: 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors.

So far this month, Oahu has seen an average of 105 new cases per day, compared to 193 as of September 30 and 637 at the end of August.

About 72% of the island’s population are already fully vaccinated.

(Eagle News Service)