HONOLULU(KHON2) — Honolulu steps up to Tier 3 on Thursday, Feb. 25, at midnight. The shift comes as a relief and a sign of hope — for most businesses — that Oahu is finally on its way to getting back to normal.
Honolulu is finally loosening restrictions after more than four months in Tier 2, allowing groups of 10 to gather and increasing capacity limits from 25 to 50% at businesses like Fun Factory.
Fun Factory CEO Linda Fernandez said, they are excited for the change.
“Mentally, people need happiness,” Fernandez said. “So, we’re just delighted and we’re so thankful that we’re going to get out of this tier and be in Tier 3 and just celebrate the fact that things are all getting better.”
Restaurants also will get a huge boost from shifting to Tier 3. They can operate at full capacity, according to Mayor Rick Blangiardi, though they must still maintain six feet between tables.
Spiritual Services can continue without capacity limits.
Golf courses and gyms will also see benifits by upping their capacity to 50% and allowing indoor fitness classes for up to 10 people.
Honolulu Fitness Center manager Britney said, they have been preparing for this for months.
“Tier 3 is really going to make a difference since we’re able to open it up to more members,” she said.
The mayor has been vocal about making additional allowances, including loosening rules for youth sports and pushing the alcohol cut off from 10 p.m. to midnight for restaurants. He has also stressed he wants to open bars that have been closed since July, 2020.
Bill Comerford owns four bars in Honolulu (O’Toole’s Irish Pub, Irish Rose Saloon, Anna O’Brien’s and Kelly O’Neil’s). He said, he has met with the mayor to discuss his plans to reopen bars.
“(Blangiardi) already made a mention to move forward and said early in February that he would like to start to open bars,” Comerford explained. ” And the governor replied, said, ‘Hey, no, not for another 60 days.’ 60 days puts us all the way over to April. They promised that we will open last year in April. And here it is a year later, we’re still not going to be open. “
He said, it is already too late for many bar owners.
“I’ve lost everything,” Comerford said. “I’ve lost myself, and many other bar owners, we’ve lost our income. We’ve lost our business. We’ve lost our retirement. We’ve lost our hopes.”
According to Comerford, the situation is especially frustrating since bars on the neighbor islands have been allowed to remain open.
“Why are we so different?” he asked.
“When (officials) defined bars, they made up their own definition of what’s a bar and what’s a restaurant. There’s many restaurants out there operating as a bar right now, with music and entertainment,” Comerford said.
Comerford added that he has not gotten enough federal aid to help save his businesses.
Blangiardi said, he will be submitting his modification framework proposal to the governor soon.