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Honolulu eases COVID-19 rules for organized gatherings, football, other events

Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi announces the easing of COVID-19 restrictions on Oʻahu on Oct. 8, 2021.
Office of Hawaiʻi Gov. David Ige
Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi announces the easing of COVID-19 restrictions on Oʻahu on Oct. 8, 2021.

Honolulu will soon begin allowing a limited number of fans at University of Hawaiʻi football games and other outdoor entertainment events as it begins to ease COVID-19 restrictions.

Gov. David Ige and Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi said Friday they were taking the step in response to rising vaccination rates and declining COVID-19 cases, hospitalized patients and test positivity rates.

Starting Oct. 13, outdoor venues for sports and concerts may have up to 1,000 attendees or up to 50% of their full capacity — whichever is smaller. For the next Hawaiʻi football home game on Oct. 23, attendees will likely be limited to family and friends of players.

Attendees will need to be vaccinated, wear masks and maintain physical distance. No food or beverages will be allowed, except water, the guidelines state.

Restrictions on indoor entertainment, outdoor weddings and funerals, golf tournaments, road races, and triathlons will also be eased.

City and County of Honolulu

Starting Oct. 20, indoor seated entertainment events can operate with 500 attendees or 50% capacity — whichever is smaller. Just like outdoor events, all attendees must be vaccinated.

Also starting Oct. 20, outdoor interactive events such as weddings will be allowed with 150 people max or 50% capacity — including staff. Food and beverages will be allowed.

The last call for alcohol on Oʻahu will be extended to midnight at bars and restaurants, effective immediately upon signing the new order, the Honolulu mayor's office said.

Social gathering sizes for all other events will follow current guidelines of 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors.

Ige said the goal was to manage Hawaiʻi's health care infrastructure while taking prudent risks and building back the state's economy.

“This is not an all-clear signal. The pandemic is far from finished in Hawaiʻi, in the nation and around the world,” Ige said.

On Oʻahu, about 72% of the total population is fully vaccinated and 84% of the eligible population is fully vaccinated. About 93% of those 12 years and older have received at least one shot, according to the state's COVID-19 dashboard.

On Friday, the seven-day average of new cases was at 125, down from 636 on Aug. 29. The percentage of tests coming back positive stood at 3% over the past week, versus 7.8% in late August.

Ige said circumstances were different now than from earlier in the pandemic. Last year at this time, the governor said, 7-10% of people who tested positive for COVID-19 needed to be hospitalized. The current rate is 1-2%, he said.

Also, monoclonal antibody treatments can avert severe illness and hospitalization when administered during the first five days of infection, he said.

The governor said he's working with the mayors of Kauaʻi, Maui and Hawaiʻi counties about easing rules on their respective islands.

He also expects to make an announcement next week regarding inviting visitors to return to the islands. In late August, Ige asked visitors to curtail travel to Hawaiʻi as the state grappled with a surge in cases brought on by the Delta variant. Many travelers still came, but visitor numbers dropped significantly.

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