HONOLULU (KHON2) — Restaurant owners can finally lift their 6-foot distancing rule between tables, but this comes with a caveat that some are opposing.
Tier 5 of Honolulu’s reopening strategy gives restaurants the option to operate like nightclubs and require proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test taken within 48 hours. This would allow restaurants to remove social distancing requirements between parties.
Kevin Aoki owns several restaurants on Oahu, including Doraki and 1938 Indochine. He said his restaurants will not be asking customers for their vaccine cards.
“Each one of our restaurants does about three to 500 covers a day, and to have someone standing out in the front checking to see if the vaccination card is legitimate,” Aoki said. “Putting that responsibility on us would very challenging.”
Aoki said he will continue to separate his tables by at least six feet and allow parties of up to 25, as Tier 5 allows.
Lifting social distancing requirements would allow restaurants to fit more customers, but some restaurants are struggling with staffing levels. Aoki said he cannot spare a worker to check COVID-19 records at the door.
“Just the fact that we’re short on labor, I’m going to have to have another staff out there just checking that vaccination card, so that’s one,” Aoki said. “I think another thing that it might do, it might discourage families from coming out.”
Although for certain industries, the vaccination requirement allows them to operate. The Republik co-founder Matty Hazelgrove said they will have their first show in more than a year.
Tier 5 could allow them to operate at full capacity, although events larger than 200 people will require approval from the city.
Hazelgrove said, “It feels like baby steps in the right direction and it was nice to see some sort of guidance finally on what when we can do events and what the guidelines will be.”
Concert promoters looking to fill arenas once again said Tier 5 does not do much for them. Rick Bartalini, the promoter who recently brought Mariah Carey and Diana Ross to the Blaisdell said, “Tier 5 is not a realistic solution to reopen the large scale event industry in the state of Hawaii.”