HONOLULU (KHON2) — Hawaii wedding industry leaders met with Gov. David Ige Thursday, Sept. 30, to discuss how they can work with him to allow people to get married and keep everyone safe while COVID restrictions and guidelines are in place.

Current guidelines limit events to 10 people indoors and 25 outdoors through Tuesday, Oct. 19. Monty Pereira of the Small Business Advisory Council and other wedding industry leaders hoped to get an idea of what comes next so that they can better plan for the future.

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Pereira said Gov. Ige was gracious and listened to all of their concerns, but there are currently no immediate changes or updates to the timeline.

The COVID pandemic hit the wedding industry particularly hard, forcing them to shut down several times since 2020.

“Just constantly being shut down is a problem because there’s always a ramp down and a ramp-up. It’s not like you can turn it off and have a wedding be scheduled,” Pereira explained.

The latest round of restrictions came in late August, which clamped down on gathering sizes. But Pereira said weddings are different.

“That’s the point of emphasis — it’s really trying to separate professional weddings from a social gathering that’s in somebody’s backyard or at a beach, and that’s kind of what we’re looking at. It’s 10 indoors and 25 outdoors and that includes vendors, bride, groom, parents, everybody– so it’s not a whole lot,” Pereira explained.

According to Pereira, during the meeting, Gov. Ige agreed that there is a difference between a professionally managed wedding and a social gathering, but said it would be difficult to differentiate the two.

COVID-19 Healthcare Liaison Lt. Gov. Josh Green said there could be a compromise in two weeks.

“As long as people are doing what’s necessary — which is preventing spread — then weddings should be able to move forward. A good compromise would commit to getting vaccinated or get tested prior to the wedding.”

COVID-19 Healthcare Liaison Lt. Gov. Josh Green

Pereira said professional vendors do have a detailed mitigation strategy in place. But he added that there are rogue weddings that happen that are not being monitored or policed.

“We know that back when the wedding that got a lot of publicity for spreading COVID was not a professional wedding,” Pereira said. “There was not a professional there to keep people accountable, which is why that happened.”

In August, the Department of Health (DOH) reported a wedding cluster linked to 17 cases and one death. Thirteen of those who were infected, including the person who died, were not vaccinated against the coronavirus. Attendees also reported masks were not worn consistently, and there was no physical distancing.

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According to Pereira, Gov. Ige asked to see their mitigation strategy proposal, which also included a request to increase wedding capacity from 25 to 100 people outdoors.