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Honolulu to allow outdoor and indoor venues at max capacity with vaccinated attendees

clarence t. ching athletic field university of hawaii football
Casey Harlow
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HPR
Clarence T. C. Ching Field at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa

Starting next week, Honolulu will allow outdoor and indoor entertainment venues to operate at full capacity with vaccinated attendees, the mayor said Wednesday as he announced the latest measures easing coronavirus restrictions.

Patrons will have to wear masks, Mayor Rick Blangiardi said at a news conference. No food will be allowed, only water.

The change will take effect on Nov. 3, in time for the next University of Hawaiʻi football home game a few days later when the Warriors host San Diego State. Last Saturday, 1,000 fans were allowed to watch a home game at Clarence T.C. Ching Field for the first time since 2019.

Also effective Nov. 3, the sale of alcohol will be permitted during normal operating hours — which is until 2 a.m. Blangiardi says 50% capacity limits for bars, restaurants, and gyms will remain in place and patrons must still present proof of vaccination or negative tests under the Safe Access Oʻahu program.

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City and County of Honolulu
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Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi announces the easing of COVID-19 restrictions on Oct. 27, 2021.

Blangiardi said the city plans to allow the Honolulu Marathon to go ahead on Dec. 12, though the race will be required to stagger the starting times of runners. Competitors will leave the starting line in groups of no more than 200 people at a time, he said.

As long as participants are vaccinated, there will be no limit on the number of total runners, the city said.

When HPR's The Conversation spoke to Honolulu Marathon President Dr. Jim Barahal on Oct. 12, he shared that he was disappointed a prior COVID-19 announcement didn’t go as far as to encourage overseas participation in the marathon. In 2019, there were 33,255 marathon participants — including 16,355 from Japan.

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City and County of Honolulu
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Eased COVID-19 restrictions start Nov. 3 in the City and County of Honolulu

Large indoor "interactive" events such as weddings and funerals are currently not allowed, but starting Nov. 3 they will be able to operate at 50% venue capacity with a maximum of 150 people, including workers. Then on Nov. 24, the maximum will increase to 300. Attendees must be vaccinated.

Children under the age of 12 — who are not yet vaccine eligible — are allowed to attend managed events, the city said. The Food and Drug Administration is soon expected to issue an emergency use authorization for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in children ages 5 to 11 years old.

John De Fries, president and CEO of the Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority, said, "The timing will allow residents and businesses to more fully enjoy the holidays and is an important step toward our economic recovery and improving the overall experience of being in Hawaiʻi during this festive time of year."

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City And County Of Honolulu
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Eased COVID-19 restrictions start Nov. 3 in the City and County of Honolulu

Blangiardi expressed confidence that the city was ready to relax its rules, noting Honolulu has one of the highest vaccination rates in the country.

As of Wednesday, 95% of the Oʻahu population aged 12 and older had received at least one shot. About 86% of the eligible population are fully vaccinated, according to the state dashboard.

The mayor said the city still has public safety and public health at top of mind, and it will be ready to tighten restrictions again if COVID-19 hospitalization metrics deteriorate.

“This is about going forward and living with it,” the mayor said of COVID-19.

Honolulu's COVID-19 cases have dropped from their summer peak when the more transmissible delta variant overwhelmed the state's hospitals. The seven-day average of new cases has hovered around 70 for the past week, down from more than 600 in August.

Social gatherings, such as those in private homes, remain limited to 10 people indoors and 25 outdoors, the city said.

For more information about Honolulu's latest guidelines, go to oneoahu.org.

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