Mayor pushes to reopen bars, extend alcohol cut-off for restaurants as Oahu gets closer to Tier 3

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) — The potential for Oahu to move to Tier 3 looks good as numbers remain low, according to Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi.

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Stepping up a tier would be a welcome change in almost every aspect of the community. The mayor said, he wants to help give Oahu that much-needed boost.

Mayor Blangiardi grows more confident Honolulu will be able to move to Tier 3 with each passing day.

“We’re very excited about where we are right now. I’m very grateful to the public,” Blangiardi said. “It’s been a phenomenal effort by everyone to get us into a great position to move to Tier 3.”

He said, he is also drawing up a proposal to relax additional restrictions.

“We’re going to actually move and ask for some better understanding and expansion on occupancy in restaurants. We’re going to push for the bars. There’s a number of things that we have not finalized yet with the governor,” Blangiardi explained.

He is pushing for a 75% capacity limit for restaurants and hopes to extend the alcohol cut-off to midnight. He also wants to open bars with certain guidelines.

Oahu shifting to Tier 3 would allow groups of up to 10 to gather in all social settings — inside and outside — including parks, sports, restaurants and indoor classes at gyms.

Island Club and Spa Regional General Manager Geri Lara-Berger said, their fitness classes were a huge draw pre-COVID but that changed with the pandemic.

“It was a little tough, ” Lara-Berger said. “There’s a big difference between five participants, you know, and 10 right now. And so we’ll be able to open it up more and take a look at a more consistent offering so that everybody is able to come in.”

She said, the hardest part has been turning people away because a class has reached capacity.

Tier 3 also loosens golf course restrictions.

“One of the key things we’re looking at is tee time intervals, trying to reduce that open up inventory. And even with some events with group size and changing, I think that’ll make a big difference,” explained PGA of America CEO Wesley Wailehua.

Wailehua said, he has seen a lot of people turn to golf during the pandemic as a way to get fit and be outdoors and he hopes that will continue as restrictions loosen up.

Churches have been allowed to hold services at 50% capacity. Moving up a tier allows spiritual services to happen without capacity limits and groups of up to 25 would be permitted to gather for funerals.

New Hope Campus Pastor John Tilton said, opening things up would help the community move forward.

“I think emotionally, a lot of that would be a blessing for people to be able to socialize and gather,” Tilton said. “(Increasing funeral capacity) would definitely open it up for people to be able to have a memorial service for their loved ones. I know a lot of people that have really struggled with that.”

Blangiardi said, the governor and the Hawaii Department of Health have the final say on whether Honolulu can step up to Tier 3 and relax additional rules.

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