HONOLULU (KHON2) — Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi provided updates on the city’s COVID-19 emergency order in a news conference on Monday, Feb. 28.
As COVID case counts and hospitalizations decrease, Mayor Blangiardi confirmed that Safe Access Oahu will expire after 11:59 p.m. Saturday, March 5, and there will be no further COVID restrictions for the city.
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“COVID is not over, but we’re going to go forward with living with this disease, and we’ll try to act as responsibly as we can as a city organization putting the health and welfare of our people first,” Mayor Blangiardi said.
Mayor Blangiardi added that private businesses can continue to ask for proof of being fully COVID vaccinated or a negative test after March 5 if they choose to for the safety of their customers.
While the mayor’s announcement means Safe Access Oahu is no longer a government mandate, Gov. Ige’s emergency proclamation is still in place and is set to expire on March 25. However, the decision to not extend the proclamation — which includes the state’s indoor mask and vaccine mandate for city and state workers– will ultimately be up to the governor and the Hawai Department of Health.
On Maui, they no longer require proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test for people to enter restaurants, bars and gyms — which started Feb. 21.
In regard to the city’s coronavirus testing sites, Mayor Blangiardi said there are no current plans to lighten up on these sites, but it is possible they will in the future.
When asked about future — and surprise — variants of the virus and the possible reinstatement of Safe Access Oahu, he said that “we now know a lot more than we ever knew two years ago, and we are prepared — at any time — to take whatever action necessary, whatever that condition should bring.”
During the news conference, Mayor Blangiardi also thanked the people of Oahu for everything they have been through since COVID started two years ago.
“What we have been through together over the last two years has been a battle, and the people of our island have fought back bravely against this. The numbers reflect everybody has done everything that they possibly could to demonstrate a genuine concern to take care of themselves, their families and all of us,” explained Mayor Blangiardi.
Dr. James Ireland, director of Honolulu EMS, also joined the news conference to talk about Honolulu’s current medical infrastructure. He said that 100% of Oahu’s quarantine beds were filled in January; however, as of Feb. 28, only about 25% of quarantine beds were in use.
According to Mayor Blangiardi, the city will soon phase out isolation quarantine facilities at Harbor Arms and West Lock Modular on March 31.
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In addition to dropping Safe Access Oahu, Mayor Blangiardi also announced the return of the Royal Hawaiian Band to its full band operations beginning March 2.