HONOLULU (KHON2) — The Department of Education (DOE) announced that limited graduation ceremonies will be allowed for the class of 2021 as COVID-19 cases continue to remain low and Honolulu begins its first day in a new tier.

Thursday, Feb. 25 is the first day one of Tier 3 and people are already making the most of it. The move allows groups of up to 10 to gather.

Honolulu resident Isaac Kipi and a group of seven of his friends were playing some beach volleyball at Ala Moana Beach on Thursday.

“Going from Tier 2 to Tier 3, that means we’re progressing,” Kipi said. “Now we get to spend time with everybody, friends and family but still being safe while we do it. It’s good.”

Restaurants that were limited to 50% capacity in Tier 2 can now operate without a capacity limit, but they are still required to keep six feet between tables.

Island Vintage Wine Bar senior shift lead Logan Motas said, they are happy to welcome more dine-in guests.

“I’m really glad that the mayor was able to allow us to sort of loosen the regulations just a little bit so that small businesses like us are able to seat more people,” Motas said.

Motas said, they can fit one more large table and several more chairs inside the restaurant — a huge help for their business.

Motas added that safety comes first even though keeping six feet between tables is limiting.

Doraku Waikiki manager Noa Aoki said, they are planning on adding more tables to their establishment and look forward to hosting large parties again.

Serving groups of up to 10 will allow larger families to sit together while dining out.

“Now we don’t have to separate families,” Motas said.

Both Motas and Aoki said they are still hoping the alcohol cut-off will be extended from 10 p.m. to midnight.

“Cutting it off at 10 sort of just means that customers are leaving a lot sooner than we would like them to,” Motas explained.

Mayor Blangiardi has said he will be submitting a proposal to Gov. David Ige to modify additional restrictions.

The DOE is also easing rules, announcing that limited, in-person graduation ceremonies will be allowed for the class of 2021.

In a statement, Superintendent Christina Kishimoto said:

“While the allowable modified ceremonies will not look like pre-pandemic celebrations, they will allow additional flexibility for our schools beyond virtual options in bringing our graduates together for this momentous occasion.

“Mahalo to our school leaders, students and staff who have been working tirelessly to plan creative and innovative ways to make the commencement ceremonies for our 2021 graduates special,” Kishimoto added. “This has truly been a unique school year and I look forward to safely celebrating our graduates on this significant milestone.”

Christina Kishimoto, Hawaii Department of Education Superintendent

Commencement ceremonies must follow strict guidelines and be held at an outdoor, well-ventilated venue. Graduates will only be allowed to bring two guests from their own households.

The DOE said, schools have the authority to reduce this number based on venue limitations and ceremony formats. Schools unable to comply are encouraged to move forward with blended in-person and virtual ceremonies, staggered drive-through celebrations or drive-in formats.