Live conventions, expos plan their return to Hawaii

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HONOLULU (KHON2) — Tier 5 of Honolulu’s reopening strategy allows the return of indoor events and conventions. Some event organizers said it is time to march forward with those plans and apply the necessary COVID-19 protocol to keep attendees and employees safe.

Vincent Van Gogh’s art is on full display and many more events are being planned after it. Hawaii Convention Center general manager Teri Orton said the facility is starting to see a return to events faster than expected.

“As we moved through these tiers structures the CDC and DOH guidelines have changed significantly, and now that we’re in tier almost no restrictions,” Orton said. “We do assist the meeting organizer in putting together their mitigation plan.”

The City requires an event organizer to submit a COVID mitigation plan for events of more than 200 people. They must also require proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test up to 48 hours prior to attending.

Orton said, “Lots of changes for us, we had to redo all of our floor plans whether it is theater seating banquette seating to accommodate social distancing.”

Attendees will notice the changes as soon as they go through the center’s doors; Temperatures will be checked before guests can enter an event. Buffet spreads have been replaced with pre-packaged meals, while cleaning and sanitizing have also increased.

All of these changes were made to allow an industry that was put on pause for more than a year to start again.

Kawaii Kon draws in thousands of folks from all over the world, the event is planning to return to the convention center in November.

But plans remain fluid and restrictions could be different come fall.

“Honestly for guests, it is going to be difficult because not all of them are vaccinated,” Kawaii Kon Public Relations Director Gina Maeda said. “Not all of them will be coming from the US, and especially once you start looking at international guests, that becomes even more tricky.”

The convention has already gone online twice in the past year, so they are open to having a hybrid in-person and virtual event.

Orton said, “People are wanting to get back and travel and get back to work and are willing to make accommodations, and be a little more flexible in their planning of their events.”

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