HONOLULU (KHON2) — The Hawaii Theatre is planning to bring back in-person shows in September, but the theater operators still have plenty of work ahead before doors can swing open.
The Hawaii Theatre Center president and CEO Gregory Dunn said it will be a few more months until the curtain reopens. February 2020 was the last time the theater had a live audience.
“Within the entertainment industry, it requires months of planning and scheduling in order to get acts into a venue like ours,” Dunn said. “It will also take us months to be able to hire staff, train staff back up and reopen the doors to the public safely.”
Needed updates to the theater are part of reopening safely, including air conditioning filtration improvements as well as retrofitting restrooms and replacing old water fountains.
Dunn said they applied for a Shuttered Venue Operators Grant from the Small Business Administration to help with funding. They have mostly relied on members and donors to remain afloat during 2020.
Dunn said, “In terms in the amount of money that we’ve applied for in order to retrofit the venue and reopen, we need close to $1.2 million in order to move to the point of being able to reopen.”
Over at the Blue Note Hawaii, live music is the draw but the venue operates like a restaurant. General manager Amanda Johnson said their biggest change from Tier 4 was removing a plexiglass barrier between performers and audience.
Johnson said, “The national acts weren’t necessarily willing to come and perform behind a plexiglass, and so without a plexiglass we’ll be able to bring a bigger variety of acts.”
Indoor events for concerts and conventions can resume at 50% capacity, with those attending needing to show proof of vaccination or a negative coronavirus test taken 48 hours prior.
Mayor Rick Blangiardi said it will be up to businesses to implement and enforce this entrance requirement since the City does not have enough resources to check all of the different venues.
Blangiardi said, “The one thing we will do, if suddenly people are just being totally in violation of the rules, if there’s a cluster or something happens, I’ll close it down.”
All COVID-19 restrictions will be dropped once the state reaches 70% of vaccinated residents.