HONOLULU (KHON2) — Starting Sept. 13, you’ll need to show proof of a COVID vaccination or a negative COVID test to get into restaurants, bars, gyms and other venues on Oahu. Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi says this is the best way to avoid another lockdown.
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The program is called Safe Access Oahu. Customers will be required to show their vaccination card or a photo of it at the door, or a negative COVID test result within the past 48 hours to get in.
“We don’t want a lockdown, but we need to all work together to ensure we don’t have to do that, and this is a good, safe way to get it done,” said Blangiardi.
The list of businesses impacted by the emergency order includes (but is not limited to):
- Bowling alleys
- Pool/billiard halls
- Movie theaters
- Indoor portions of botanical gardens
- Aquariums, sea life attractions
- Commercial recreational boating
- Public and private commercial pools
- Shooting/archery ranges
- Other commercial attractions like go kart, mini golf
- Any establishments offering food and/or drink for on premises consumption
- Standalone and hotel gyms and fitness centers, yoga/Pilates/barre/dance studios, boxing/kickboxing gyms, fitness boot camps, indoor pools, and other similar facilities.
He says the city will track cluster reports, and the liquor commission will investigate businesses suspected of violating the rules.
“Businesses that don’t comply are gonna probably be fined and ultimately, if we get a lot of problems, we will shut them down. This is in the name of public health. there’s a lot of leverage in our office to do things like this,” said Blangiardi.
The head of the Hawaii Restaurant Association says businesses in the lowest vaccinated areas will be hurt the most, and some restaurants might just choose to close their dining rooms. But the hope is to avoid losing customers completely.
“Don’t stop eating at your neighborhood restaurants. If you’re not vaccinated and you’re not going to get vaccinated, go get takeout. Don’t stop eating in restaurants. We need you. We need the business,” said Greg Maples, chairman of the Hawaii Restaurant Association.
The mayor also announced that alcohol will not be served after 10 p.m. He says the whole idea is to prevent the possibility of overwhelming our hospitals — and we’re getting very close to that. The Safe Access Oahu program will be in place for 60 days.
“If we don’t see an improvement in 60 days, then we will go to mandatory vaccinations. We’re in that circumstance. People need to embrace that. We are pushing right now a circumstance and a situation which is our worst fear at the outset of the pandemic going back to March 2020,” said Blangiardi.
Children under 12 years old are exempt because they can’t get vaccinated. Businesses still have to follow social distancing guidelines and allow only 50% capacity. Maples is hopeful that the safety benefits outweigh the backlash.
“We have the potential to create an environment in a restaurant where people are so comfortable that we may see more business in our dining room,” he said.
To read the Order, click here.
The mayor hinted at the announcement last week and said he wants people on Oahu to have a choice.
After discussing with cities that have already started a vaccine passport pilot program, he said there were adverse economic impacts in areas where there was no option for a pre-test.
The Hawaii Restaurant Association polled about 120 restaurants. Some were in favor of a vaccine passport, but restaurants in zip codes with low vaccination rates were very concerned.
For more information about the Safe Access Oahu program, click here.