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Honolulu Mayor Restricts Gathering Sizes, Large Events to Control COVID-19

A coronavirus awareness sign around the U.S. Capitol encourages social distancing.
Michael Brochstein
Echoes Wire/Barcroft Media/Getty Images
A coronavirus awareness sign around the U.S. Capitol encourages social distancing.

Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi said Monday he would restrict indoor gatherings to 10 people and outdoor gatherings to 25 in an effort to control COVID-19 as the highly contagious delta variant spreads in the community.

The suspension of large organized events will be in place for 28 days, starting Wednesday through Sept. 22, and could be extended "based on current conditions and impacts to the medical providers," the city said.

Events that are suspended include conferences, trade shows, concerts, gatherings in connection with weddings and funerals, and ticketed sporting events, the city said.

"As of last Friday, there were 28 events with more than 1,000 attendees, 46 events with more than 500 attendees, and 113 events with more than 200 attendees that submitted mitigation plans," the city said in a news release. "These and other events scheduled within the 28-day restricted period will be canceled."

Hiro Toiya, the city's emergency management director, cited a mathematical modeling tool from the Georgia Institute of Technology to illustrate risks the community faced from large gatherings.

The modeling shows there is a 20% chance that someone in a group of 10 will have the disease given the number of COVID-19 cases on Oʻahu now. But in a group of 100, there's a 90% chance someone will have it.

“So when you’re looking at how transmissible delta is, we really got to control these large gatherings,” Toiya said at a news conference. “The status quo is not working, and it’s not acceptable.”

Multiple Oʻahu hospitals have filled their regular beds as COVID-19 cases pour into emergency rooms. The city set up a 25-cot tent outside The Queen's Medical Center West Oʻahu on Friday to help handle the influx of cases.

"Other sick people are in the hospital with all other kinds of regular medical conditions that put you in the hospital. But at some point, and some point very very soon, none of these hospitals will have physical space to take care of these patients," said Dr. Jim Ireland, director of Honolulu Emergency Services.

Blangiardi continued urging people to get vaccinated.

Sixty-two percent of Hawaiʻi’s total population is fully vaccinated. Ireland said he hopes to see the vaccination rate go up now that the Pfizer vaccine is fully approved.

At the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, sports games will continue with no fans in attendance.

Information on testing and vaccination sites can be found at

The Associated Press is one of the largest and most trusted sources of independent newsgathering, supplying a steady stream of news to its members, international subscribers and commercial customers. Founded in 1846, AP is neither privately owned nor government-funded; instead, it's a not-for-profit news cooperative owned by its American newspaper and broadcast members.
Zoe Dym is a news producer at Hawaiʻi Public Radio.
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