HONOLULU (KHON2) — Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi announced on Wednesday, Jan. 5, that large indoor events on Oahu expecting 1,000 or more attendees will be required to cut capacity to only 50% of the venue.
The new indoor gathering restriction will take effect on Monday, Jan. 10, and has no effect on outdoor events; Blangiardi stated it will be in place for at least three weeks.
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Today we begin to fight back against this virus. We have mobile vaccination available at schools. We believe we can get through this. We are watching carefully — our hospital’s needs. We need the public to respond with good decision-making. We need to use the common-sense actions that Mark talked about and get vaccinated.”Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi
“All of us just got to make our decisions of whether or not you’re comfortable going to something or not,” Blangiardi continued. “That’s your decision — we keep saying that, but we’re not going to restrict anything other than what I just said.”
The Hawaii Theatre has recently postponed seven shows due to COVID concerns. Gregory Dunn, the Hawaii Theatre Center CEO, said a Jefferson Starship concert that was expected to be a full house at the end of January is now “to be determined.”
Dunn said, “We now have to let them know that that number is now going to be reduced to 650 to 700 seats that will be available for sale and give them the option of deciding if they still want to do the show at a lower amount.”
The mayor was joined by state healthcare leaders and discussed the recent surge of COVID-19 cases, as well as encouraged the public to get their boosters.
The Queen’s Health Systems President and CEO Jill Hoggard Green encouraged the public to get vaccinated with their boosters and to wear a mask.
Hawai’i Pacific Health (HPH) President and CEO Raymond Vara, Jr. echoed Dr. Green.
“It is our best defense against COVID if we get vaccinated, wear a mask and keep our distance from others,” Vara Jr. Said. “As we think about how we go forward, I want to thank our team at HPH. The greatest challenge in our hospitals is keeping our workforce healthy. I want to thank our healthcare workers and first responders for continuing to show up and doing great work.”
Since the omicron variant is known to spread quickly, Hawai’i Medical Service Association President and CEO Mark Mugiishi talked about common-sense actions that the public can take.
Common sense has to be common. Look, infectious diseases will always be infectious. The bottom line is if you are sick stay at home. If you are in a high-risk situation, wear a mask. If it is peak season try to avoid high-risk situations. These kinds of things are common-sense. Use good hygiene — all of these things should be common-sense for managing an infectious disease.”Mark Mugiishi, Hawai’i Medical Service Association President and CEO
Mugiishi added that omicron is more transmissible and it is mutating — becoming less novel.
“We can get used to it and be immune to it. First, the virus is changing. Second, medical science is adapting. And the third is people can adapt. Get vaccinated. Vaccines need to be routine and not political,” Mugiishi continued.
Healthcare Association of Hawai’i President and CEO Hilton Raethel said he anticipates a peak in COVID cases soon.
“We are bringing in over 700 healthcare workers from the mainland to help with this surge,” Raethel said. “We are also assessing our personal protective gear. Your actions can make a difference. Your family, friends and healthcare workers will thank you.”
Raethel concluded, “With this (omicron) COVID variant 10 to 12 percent of these cases will stay in the hospital. The issue got more complex. Our concern is the very high numbers in our community, which is in the 20% now. We still have a lot of patients — we still need a lot of stuff. And we need people to take personal responsibility.”
Blangiardi said the state is not ready to add a third booster mandate to the Safe Travel program yet. Then, he talked about how employers can encourage their employees to get their vaccine boosters.
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“We are not ready to mandate boosters either. But we did get a 90% increase of our employees who got their boosters. We offered them a paid time off if they got their boosters,” Blangiardi said.
Correction: An earlier version of this story contained the incorrect date for Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi’s announcement. The post has been corrected.