HONOLULU (KHON2) —  All large gatherings on Oahu will be scaled back to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors starting Wednesday, Aug. 25. Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi citing an alarming rise in COVID-19 cases linked to community spread.

The City said the suspension will be in place for 28 days through Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2021, and may be extended based on conditions and impacts to the medical providers.

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“First and foremost, after extensive discussions with the Department of Health and healthcare providers, we believe large gatherings are the fundamental cause of communal spread,” said Mayor Rick Blangiardi. “And consequently we will suspend all large gatherings for 28 days. We strongly believe the best way to protect yourself and our community is vaccination. We urge the unvaccinated to get vaccinated now as our best weapon against this disease.”

According to the City, large gatherings are a singular organized occurrence as opposed to a daily happening. Some examples of gatherings that are suspended:

·         Conferences and meetings

·         Trade shows

·         Conventions

·         Concerts and live events

·         Ticketed sporting events

·         Sports tournaments

·         Gatherings in connection with weddings and funerals

Day-to-day activities that will be allowed to continue operations include:

·         Organized recreational sports

·         Spiritual services

·         Social establishments continue operations as a restaurant/bar

·         Farmer’s markets and craft fairs, with no entertainment

“[Canceled events] includes University of Hawaii football and volleyball venues, we’re shutting down the Blaisdell obviously, Waikiki shell, and any other venues we can control,” Blangiardi said. “Youth sports, everything else is on. It’s 10 indoors for any event in a group. We’re going to allow restaurants because that’s a daily occurrence, to operate at 50%.”

Mayor said schools and religious services will not be impacted, and said luau can operate at 50% capacity like restaurants. He said HPD enforcement will pick up, but they’re relying on the publics’ help.

Mayor Blangiardi said HPD received a tip over the weekend of a large party happening in Waianae on Saturday that HPD was able to shut down before it happened.

As of last Friday, there were 28 events with more than 1,000 attendees, 46 events with more than 500 attendees, and 113 events with more than 200 attendees that submitted mitigation plans to the City. These and other events scheduled within the 28-day restricted period will be canceled.

The city’s emergency management director said with the current positivity rate there’s a 20% chance someone in a group of 10 could have COVID, and if there are 100 people at a gathering it jumps to 90%.

“We have to control these large gatherings,” Hiro Toiya, the city’s emergency management director said. “Everything we’ve been doing so far hasn’t been working. Were we are because the status quo is not working, and it’s not acceptable.”

He said testing, contact tracing, and vaccinations are also crucial.

“We have to layer all these things together now or otherwise we’re looking at a crisis that we’re going to infect the entire community here,” he said.

On Monday, Governor David Ige said if numbers don’t improve, and if hospitals remained overrun, a lockdown is a possibility.

“Yes, it would be on the table if the number of cases continues to grow exponentially over the next few weeks like Dr. Char said, then we will have to take action,” he said. “I encourage everyone to restrict and curtail travel to Hawaii; residents and visitors alike it’s not a good time.”

On Monday, the City and County of Honolulu saw 359 new COVID-19 cases, with over 40,000 cases reported on the island since the pandemic began.

Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi held a news conference in front of Mission Memorial Auditorium just an hour after the Hawaii Department of Health published the latest COVID-19 numbers.

“We’re at a point right now that we never expected to be at,” the mayor said.

Blangiardi went on to say that despite having hope that there was a light at the end of the tunnel, the City continues to see a dramatic rise in COVID-19 cases, with hospitals struggling to keep up.

Concerts, luaus, athletic events, funerals and weddings will be impacted.

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Restaurants will be allowed to continue operating at 50% capacity, but will be required to keep groups to 10 or less.