HONOLULU (KHON2) — Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi said he’ll drop the 50% capacity limit for indoor events on Monday, Jan. 31.
Blangiardi put the restriction in place two and a half weeks ago amid a rise in COVID cases.
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But, with COVID cases seemingly trending down, and possibly peaking, he told KHON2 that he feels comfortable having businesses decide whether to have a large indoor event or not.
“And so we’re just going to let this one restriction we have with large gatherings sunset, and just go quietly, but we’re going to keep an eye on it,” he said.
Since Jan. 1, the state health department has reported 98,335 COVID infections in the state. That’s more infections than the state saw from March 2020 through Dec. 24, 2021.
“If anything had gotten unruly or unpredictable or gone to worse, we would have adjusted accordingly, and we, fortunately, did not have to do that,” Blangiardi added.
According to state data, 55% of eligible people in the state have gotten their booster shot. Blangiardi is encouraged by the increasing number of people getting their additional dose and said people need to continue to make good choices moving forward.
“I don’t know how many large indoor gatherings there will be, so I leave it to people themselves to make that choice, but we think we’re at a point in time of adapting to this new world that we’re living in,” he said about wearing masks, distancing and doing responsible things to keep people safe.
The Hawaii Symphony Orchestra said it’ll resume shows Friday, Feb. 4, at Hawaii Theatre and they are working on a date with the Blaisdell for the postponed Star Wars series to take place between February and July.
The University of Hawaii said it will follow the county and resume 100% capacity at sporting events once the mayor officially adjusts the guidelines. The university said it will also have students return to in-class learning on Monday.
The Hawaii Theatre said it has already had to reschedule two productions from the mainland because of capacity uncertainty.
“If the mayor is allowing this to sunset, then we can either increase the capacity and the number of seats that we’re able to sell, or if the promoters wish, we also can maintain the capacity limits, if their patrons feel safer, having fewer people in the theater,” said Gregory Dunn, Hawaii Theatre Center president.
He said most patrons have said they’re not ready for full capacity audiences just yet.
“We’re very judiciously choosing the shows that we’re doing to make sure that at least for the next couple of months, we’re bringing in shows that we can do with a 50% sell-through audience,” Dunn said.
He said not having 100% capacity does hurt business though.
“It’s not just as simple as flipping a switch and only selling half of the theater or selling the entire theater,” he said. “The majority of the shows that we present at the theater require at least 75% to 80% of the seats to be sold in order for the show to just break even. So if we’re already at half capacity, we’re losing money. If we get up into 75% to 80%, sell-through, we’re breaking even if we can have a sold-out show with 100% sell-through, we ourselves and the promoters are making money. So performing arts in and of themselves are very expensive, and it’s difficult to make it viable in a for-profit sense for many of our local promoters. And so we want to be here to support them, but also support the community and make sure that we’re around to serve people in the future.”
Blangiardi said on Thursday that he still has no plans to include a booster shot to be considered fully vaccinated to enter businesses.
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“I’m not interested in necessarily mandating, people know what to do,” he said.