Looking to revitalize Oahu’s economy, Honolulu mayor considers easing restrictions

Published: Jan. 31, 2021 at 12:09 PM HST|Updated: Jan. 31, 2021 at 12:10 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi is looking to loosen restrictions on bars, restaurants, and youth sports.

Mayor Blangiardi plans to meet with the Hawaii Restaurant Association and Honolulu Liquor Commission to discuss the possible changes for the food industry, which would bring back a livelihood to local bar and restaurant owners.

“I believe that they are owners, and they are responsible people, and that they’re ready to enforce themselves, what they will do with respect to our restaurants and buyers,” Mayor Blangiardi said.

For many, it’s a step in the right direction, but for others the tier system has already pushed them to their breaking point.

“I have no hopes I’m leaving Hawaii. Why? I’ve been here for 40 years, had a successful business,” said Bill Comerford, chairman of the Hawaii Bar Owners Association. “What was their choice? Kill my business and not even say sorry.”

Comerford blames the government for taking his business and livelihood away from him.

“You took everything away from me,” said Comerford. “You put me in debt.”

Comerford and some other bar owners filed a federal lawsuit trying to get an injunction back in December, but says the judge felt the government was within its powers of emergency orders to shut bars down.

At the start of the pandemic, he owned four Irish pubs and one management company that operated everything.

He also no longer owns Kelly O’Neals. And O’Toole’s, which is in a historic building downtown, has become an eye sore since closing.

“I’ve had my neighbors say can we come over and paint your plywood over all your windows because it’s all graffiti,” said Comerford. “All my sidewalks are covered with poop and feces and urine, there’s trash all over the place, [but] did I do that? No, your government did that.”

Mayor Blangiardi is also eager to bring back outdoor youth sports.

Erich Wida who coaches his son’s baseball team says this should have been looked into sooner.

“I know my neighbors have moved away so their kids can play sports to the mainland, some of his friends have moved to Kauai so they can play sports,” said Wida. “All the outer islands are all playing sports, we’re the only ones that are not doing it.”

In order to advance to tier four, the 7-day average needs to stay below 20 for two weeks which hasn’t happened since July.

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