Oahu businesses hope fewer COVID restrictions will translate into more customers

Published: Feb. 25, 2021 at 10:14 PM HST|Updated: Feb. 25, 2021 at 10:15 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - As Tier 3 went into effect Thursday, some Oahu businesses were already starting to enjoy the benefits of fewer restrictions — with more customeres.

Gyms said they are feeling the immediate relief of the new rules as they are allowed to operate at 50% capacity, up from 25% capacity.

“We were turning people away from their ability to work out,” said Greg Waibel, the president and CEO of the YMCA of Honolulu. “So that will mean a lot more people will be able to benefit from their health and wellness journey.”

Waibel said that they will soon do away with their online reservation system for normal workouts, but they still recommend customers to sign up for any classes.

“What will change is we will be allowed to serve more people in our group exercise classes, both indoors and outdoors,” Waibel said. “Now, we can have 10 people total.”

As groups of 10 are now allowed under Tier 3, restaurants are also seeing larger group reservations.

“We have a party of nine and we’re very excited,” said Bill Nickerson, general manager at Ya-Ya’s Chophouse and Seafood.

Although restaurants no longer have capacity limits, Nickerson said.

“People don’t realize that social distancing does keep the restaurant at about 50% capacity. It would be great if we were the size of a football field, but we’re not.”

Nickerson said, either way, he hopes more people will feel comfortable eating at restaurants.

Roseann Vierra, the manager for Town and Country Surf Shop at Pearlridge, shares a similar hope.

Along with restaurants, retailers no longer have a cap on occupancy.

Vierra said that the looser restrictions didn’t have too much of an effect for the shop, since they rarely have to make people wait to come inside, but she hopes more folks will make it to their mall.

“I want everyone to feel at ease and to know that we have a safe environment,” Vierra said.

Under the new Tier 3 rules:

  • 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 can operate without capacity restrictions, previously 50%.
  • Gyms and fitness facilities that operate indoors can operate at 50% capacity, up from 25%.
  • Twenty-five people can attend funerals, up from 10.

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