Honolulu mayor opts for vaccine passport over lockdown as COVID cases surge

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) — No lockdown. That’s according to Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi after meeting with Gov. David Ige and the other county mayors Friday. But Blangiardi said a vaccine passport is coming for Honolulu businesses where people gather.

Blangiardi said hearing there were 1,035 cases and nine deaths Friday was daunting.

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“We went to the meeting understanding if you will, the gravitas of the moment,” he explained. “We’re very aware of what’s happening the last several weeks. It’s all fluid.”

Despite the rise in cases, he said the economic impact of another shutdown could be devastating.

“The governor is not ordering a lockdown so we are going to proceed as planned, which is not to lock down our community, but do anything and everything we possibly can to mitigate communal spread.”

Those efforts include the vaccination mandate for city and county employees, limiting gathering sizes and implementing a vaccine passport for businesses.

“We are going to implement a vaccine passport for restaurants, bars and gyms and a whole lot of other places required of all patrons and employees,” Blangiardi explained.

If the request is approved by the state, everyone would be required to show a test or proof of vaccination at specific businesses.

He said they’ve looked at similar programs in other cities.

“We felt it fair to go middle ground and work with the restaurant association, was to issue this proclamation and really urging for vaccinations. But at the same time, just require the workers to be tested weekly, which has not gone on till now,” Blangiardi said. “So that’s one of the things that we’re gonna do.”

He doesn’t want to penalize or close businesses that are taking precautions.

“Part of our livelihood and quality of life is to be able to go out and eat at a fast food place or fancy restaurant. We want to keep that going as we work through this stage of the disease.”

Blangiardi said if this doesn’t work there will be consequences.

“If we see any really bad behaviors, we will either shut it down or we will impose a vaccine mandate,” Blangiardi warned. “We want to give everybody an opportunity, adhere to and respond accordingly.”

Two things he does feel good about are testing and vaccination rates.

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“The incredible demand for testing — it’s incredible. In fact, it’s almost in excess of our ability to stay up with that — the demand for testing. And now going back to the increase in daily vaccinations, we’re averaging about 3,500 vaccines a day, which is back to early on stages,” he explained. “And it looks like that number is even growing.”

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