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O?ahu Closes Bars, Maui Limits Gatherings To No More Than 10

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A three-week shutdown of O?ahu bars will begin today – and further rollbacks of the island’s reopening are still possible. 

Mayor Kirk Caldwell said yesterday Gov. David Ige approved his latest requests for more COVID-19 restrictions after a surge in cases.

Bars will be closed for the next three weeks and restaurants will be prohibited from selling or serving alcohol past 10 p.m.

"And the reason for that is some bars were converting to restaurants to try to skirt around that midnight stopping serving of alcohol," the mayor said. "But I want to emphasize restaurants that are found in violation, and are actually selling, serving, or allowing alcohol to be consumed after 10 o’clock – they can be shut down also by the Liquor Commission for 24 hours."

Liquor inspectors closed three Chinatown bars this week for failing to comply with safety guidelines -- The Dragon Upstairs and Hanks Café on Nu?uanu Avenue, and NextDoor on Hotel Street.

The mayor says the three-week shutdown will allow the Liquor Commission to draft a better enforcement plan – and ensure bars are complying with the city’s rules.

This week, officials alerted the public to COVID clusters at two O?ahu bars. That came on top of a week of record numbers in new coronavirus cases.

Caldwell says if the recent trend continues, more rollbacks of the reopening are possible.

"Everything’s on the table. As we said, public safety’s paramount above anything, and we’ll take whatever action is needed to protect our public’s health," he said. "At this point, I’m hoping that we can be more strategic in how we respond to outbreaks – like we do with gyms by requiring mask wearing for everyone, no matter what the exercise is being performed. And I am hoping that we can be more strategic in other ways."

Caldwell says he would prefer not to take broad, sweeping actions but he’s working on a few more orders to submit to the governor for approval.

Meanwhile, Maui County is limiting gatherings inside and outside to no more than 10 people.

The rollback to smaller gatherings takes effect today.

“Today, our state reported a triple-digit increase in COVID-19 cases for the second-straight day, including four additional new cases for Maui County,” Mayor Michael Victorino said in a news release.

“We’ve had 42 cases this month, compared to just four in May and three in June. This rise in cases statewide continues to concern me and there have been many reports of large parties, drum circles and other gatherings, which could jeopardize the safety of our keiki and kupuna. I believe this rule change is necessary to help protect our community from future spikes and outbreaks.”

Businesses and places of worship can still operate under existing county and state rules. County parks and beach parks will continue to be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. But use of large structures, such as tents and pavilions, that may attract gatherings, will be prohibited, the county said.

Casey Harlow is an HPR reporter and occasionally fills in as local host of Morning Edition and All Things Considered. Contact him at or on Twitter (@CaseyHarlow).
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