Oahu mayor shares message after hours-long testimony opposing COVID vaccine mandates

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) — There was a special City Council meeting on Thursday, Sept. 2, with the Committee on Transportation, Sustainability and Health.

The Council proposed a resolution similar to Mayor Blangiardi’s Safe Access Oahu card on Friday, Aug. 27, prior to his announcement of the program on Monday, Aug. 31.

Mayor Rick Blangiardi defended his decision to implement the Safe Access Oahu program after four and a half hours of testimony from people who oppose a vaccine mandate.

“We’re witnessing stuff now that we’ve never experienced before and we’re responding and reacting properly in an emergency situation,” Blangiardi said.

He said about 8,840 of the roughly 10,300 City employees received one dose or were fully vaccinated; about 900 applied for religious and medical exemptions — Blangiardi said all will be approved.

He said roughly 400 employees never responded and many are currently on extended leave. He said there were 49 who refused to be vaccinated.

“We’ve already bean to enforce what we said we were going to do on possible termination, unpaid leave, etc. and we’ll give everyone due process, we’ve already issued the first letter today,” he added.

He said there will be a press conference on Friday, Aug. 3, with Honolulu Police, the governor and other county mayors and they will announce stepped-up enforcement and $250 fines starting Labor Day weekend for any kind of crowd gathering.

“We’re not looking to be petty, we expect people to behave themselves,” Mayor Blangiardi said.

The announcement came as more anti-vax protests are planned for the holiday weekend.

“We’re not looking to be petty, we expect people to behave themselves,” he said. “All we’re trying to do is overcome the bad behaviors, asking people to cooperate and not go out to large gatherings, or be in the midst and my fear is that the very people, because we know this factually, we know the demographics, and the geography, the very people complaining coming in here are those who are prone to do that, and we’re doing to play hardball back to that.”

Council member Heidi Tsuneyoshi expressed frustration at the mayor’s comments about anti-vaxers after hours of sometimes heated testimony from the public and City workers.

“Every life is important, so if an unvaccinated person comes to a hospital and gets treated a way they shouldn’t be treated because they’re unvaccinated that’s an impossible and irresponsible motion to have,” said Tsuneyoshi.

“What I said, to keep it in perspective and reality, is it’s exhausting, it’s gotten to be at a breaking point,” Mayor responded.

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