Mayors start to implement restrictions, Honolulu bars closed for ‘at least’ 3 weeks

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) — The continued spike in cases prompted Maui Mayor Mike Victorino to once again limit social gatherings to no more than 10 people.

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On Oahu, Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell announced he’s closing bars again for at least three weeks.

At 12:01 a.m. Friday, July 31, all bars on Oahu will be ordered to shut down.

Starting Friday, restaurants that serve alcohol will be required to stop selling, serving, or consuming alcohol at 10 p.m.

Mayor Caldwell said bars are considered high-risk because they are designed to be a social setting and the increase in numbers is not an accomplishing milestone. He said Honolulu needs to go back to single or no cases.

“We need to get back to that place and we need to do it immediately,” Caldwell said. “This is not about bars; this is about keeping people safe while we see a spike in cases.”

COVID clusters have started at some Honolulu bars, and a few bars have broken the new liquor rules.

Caldwell said some bars were converting into restaurants to “try and skirt around the 12:00 a.m., midnight stop serving of alcohol,” Caldwell said.

“We want to try and set discipline to protect all of us, so for at least three weeks, bars are shut down,” Caldwell said.

He said two Chinatown bars, The Dragon Upstairs and NextDoor on Hotel Street, were ordered to shut down Thursday evening after violating liquor rules.

“That’s four examples of bars not following the order we implemented when we gave orders and now they’re shut down for 24 hours,” Caldwell said.

Since bars reopened in mid-June, Caldwell said the Honolulu Liquor Commission issued 21 violation notices and 10 written warnings.

“We have examples of bars that haven’t been following requirements, and two bars with COVID clusters and numerous examples of other cities around the world where people go to bars and people let down their guard and covid spreads within that bar to other patrons and employees,” Caldwell said.  

He said if a bar does not follow the shutdown, they will be subject to fines and could even lose their liquor license. He said restaurants that serve alcohol past 10 p.m., will also be shut down for 24-hours and depending on what case numbers look like in the coming weeks, he’ll ask Governor David Ige to reopen bars with new conditions and extending hours past 10 p.m.

State health director Dr. Bruce Anderson said five COVID cases originated from two bars and continues to grow.

“Just associated with those two bars, we now have another seven cases that we think might have been associated with those bars,” Dr. Anderson said.

He said the three-week closure is a good start, but clusters have formed at house parties, beach gatherings and gyms too.

“I am concerned this is going to spin out of control pretty quickly if we don’t take some aggressive containment measures,” said Anderson.

Dr. Anderson also said bars have been a huge problem nationwide. He said people don’t wear their masks at all times because they are drinking, and some bars are loud and force people to shout so someone can hear them.  

Lt. Governor Dr. Josh Green said it’s not just bars, but it’s everyone’s responsibility to follow the rules and keep gatherings to 10 people, and to continue to socially distance or we could face another statewide closure.

“One-hundred-and-twenty-four cases, man if it becomes 250 or 300, then it’s over,” Lt. Gov Green said. “Then there will be an order to completely shut down the state for two to four weeks, back into a kind of full lockdown and I really don’t want us to have to endure that.”

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