Oahu bar owners welcome customers back ... and hope this reopening sticks

Published: Mar. 12, 2021 at 10:07 AM HST|Updated: Mar. 12, 2021 at 10:09 AM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Tabs are open, the taps are flowing, and people are bellying up to bars again on Oahu.

Oahu is still in Tier 3, but the rules changed on Thursday. Under modifications to the city’s tiered reopening system, Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi allowed bars to reopen immediately.

“For the 100 some odd bars that remain closed, this is an opportunity for them to open,” said Blangiardi. He said it’s all thanks to the significant strides Oahu has made in keeping new COVID infections down.

[Read more: Bars allowed to reopen immediately as city significantly eases COVID restrictions]

With more than 18% of people on Oahu getting at least one dose of the vaccine, Blangiardi said it was time to loosen restrictions.

It was welcome news for bar owners.

“To those who have been managing to hang on, it’s a game changer obviously. They will be able to reopen and hopefully re-establish their clientele. It’s nothing short of miraculous,” said James DiPasquale, Hawaii Bar Owners Association attorney.

Bar owners and patrons are cheering after being practically shut down for a year.

“I think it’s a good move. I think opening up safely is an excellent move and I think it’s good for businesses. It’s good for tourists and it’s good for locals as well,” said Brad Fieldson, a patron at Hula’s Bar and Lei Stand in Waikiki.

Both bars and restaurants will now be allowed to serve alcohol to midnight rather than 10 p.m.

“The truth was, we weren’t able to break even. We were still in the red up until today, even with all the government grants and PPP, we were still in the negative. But opening until midnight will definitely help make a little money hopefully,” said Hulas Bar and Lei Stand General Manager Brian Navarrete.

DiPasquale said some establishments haven’t been so luckily, and many have had to close their doors for good.

“It’s an announcement that has come far too late in the game. Far too many businesses have closed. I am not sure you can necessarily close a business for a year and expect them to survive,” DiPasquale said.

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