Oahu eases COVID restrictions on gatherings, businesses as new infections drop

Oahu officially enters Tier 3 of city’s reopening plan, easing more restrictions

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Oahu officially entered Tier 3 of the city’s reopening plan on Thursday, allowing for a much-anticipated easing of restrictions on gatherings and businesses.

New changes went into effect just after midnight.

“This is a really great accomplishment by our community,” Mayor Rick Blangiardi said, at a news conference Tuesday. “This is something to be embraced and celebrated.”

[Read more: Oahu is (finally) poised to move to Tier 3. Here’s what will be allowed.]

Oahu has been in Tier 2 of its reopening plan since October, which meant groups were kept to five people and many businesses had strict capacity limits. To move to the next tier, weekly averages needed to stay between 20-49 cases and the positivity rate had to remain under 2.49%.

The seven-day average for cases stands at 29 with a 1.1.% positivity rate.

Under the new Tier 3 rules, slated to go into effect Thursday:

  • Social gatherings can have up to 10 people, up from five.
  • Parties at restaurants can also have 10 people and there are no capacity limits. But eateries must still enforce social distancing rules.
  • Retailers will also be able to operate without capacity restrictions, from 50% now.
  • Gyms and fitness facilities that operate indoors can go up to 50% capacity (from 25%).
  • Twenty-five people can attend funerals, up from 10.

[For all the details on the city’s Tier 3 COVID restrictions, click here.]

Tier 3 does not allow for the reopening of bars or the resumption of organized sports.

But Blangiardi said he will be submitting a request to the governor to change the reopening restrictions, weaving rules for youth and adult organized sports into Tier 3.

There’s no timeline for reopening bars.

“We want to get people outside, especially our kids outside,” he said. “So that they can enjoy the benefits that come, not just running and all the physiological aspects of participating in sports but quite honestly, as an old coach, a lot of the mental aspects too.”

The mayor first needs approval from the state Health Department then the governor on the change.

Some parents and coaches said they were surprised to hear the mayor hasn’t already submitted his request after previously coming out in support of rebooting organized sports.

“A little bit disappointed. We were really hoping that we were going to have some kind of announcement for the kids to get out and at least start practicing as a team, hopefully get out and maybe scrimmage and play games,” said Sean Takamori, Hawaii Kai Dodgers coach.

Blangiardi added that the earliest Oahu could move to Tier 4 is March 25.

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