New mandate forces bars to stop serving alcohol at midnight in Honolulu

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) — There were 22 new cases of COVID-19 reported in Hawaii Tuesday bringing the statewide total to 1,264. Nineteen of those cases were on Oahu. With cases increasing every day, Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell is looking at ways to curb the spread of the virus. His latest course of action–cutting back hours at bars and cabarets.

Caldwell said he is hearing complaints about people not following guidelines in bars and establishments with cabaret licenses.

Tuesday, Governor David Ige signed-off on the plan outlining stricter rules that would also shut down bars for not complying with protocols.

Bars and nightclubs on Oahu have been back open for a just a few weeks and are already facing more restrictions amid the spike in cases of COVID-19.

“We’ve asked all bars and cabarets to stop serving liquor at midnight every day of the week,” Caldwell explained.

He said bars do not have to close at midnight but do have to stop serving alcohol at or before 12 A.M. His request comes after hearing troubling news.

“We’re getting more and more complaints and our liquor commission has been going out and inspecting and seeing, in certain situations, hundreds of people at bars not physical distancing, wearing no face coverings and dancing close together,” said Caldwell.

“We believe that people, as they hang around the bar for a long period of time, they get more lax and we have examples of what we don’t want to see.”

Caldwell’s proclamation also gives the Honolulu Police Department or the liquor commission authority to shut a bar down for noncompliance.

The emergency order states:

“Any bar that does not enforce wearing face coverings, social distancing and rules pertaining to singing and dancing shall be subject to immediate closure for a 24-hour period.”

Bar owners could also be fined, or have their liquor license suspended or revoked.

“For those who violate, it’s the bar owner who suffers the consequences cause the bar is shut down for 24 hours and there’s an economic impact to that.”

Ana Martinez, a bartender at Kelly O’Niel’s, said it will really hurt the bartenders and waitresses because they rely on tip money.

“Whenever one bar closes down people come here. And when we get off work we go to the next place. So closing down early, it’s affecting us as workers just because this is where we make most of our money,” Martinez explained.

Dukes Waikiki General Manager Keli’i Gouveia agreed that cutting off alcohol sales early will impact them but said he understands why the new rules are being implemented.

“Now more than ever we have to be safe…it’s imperative for businesses. If you want people to come, you got to prove you’re going to take care of them while they’re here.”

“I think we ought to do our part to maintain it. If the liquor commission needs to shut people down to send a message, then I guess they have to do that,” said Gouveia.

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