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Oahu business owners say they’re disappointed in lack of clarity over COVID guidelines

Updated: Apr. 7, 2021 at 11:35 AM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Business owners are seeking clarity on Oahu’s tier system ― and whether some COVID restrictions could be reinstated because of rising case counts.

Jasmine Mancos, owner of Proof Social club, said the uncertainty is making it harder to plan. Bars on Oahu were only just allowed to reopen in March after being shut down for most of the pandemic.

“I just check (the tier system) every morning as soon as I wake up ... to keep my staff informed to make sure they have a job to come into,” said Mancos.

“If they can give us a guideline similar to other industries, what we can expect along the way at least, we can sort of plan in advance versus hinging on a day or two.”

[Related: Blangiardi says he’s ‘dead set against’ rolling Oahu back to Tier 2]

At issue is where Oahu stands on the tiered reopening system and whether the island could fall back.

Oahu is currently in Tier 3, and the Blangiardi administration has also given the green light to loosen restrictions on weddings, youth sports and other activities.

But under the system as currently written, Oahu is poised to move back to Tier 2 on Thursday because of a rising number of COVID infections.

Mayor Rick Blangiardi said he’s “dead set” against doing that, saying that ongoing vaccinations mean the perimeters for the tier system don’t really make sense anymore. Right now, state statistics show, about half of all ICU beds on Oahu are in use and just three of those are COVID patients.

My intention here right now is sticking to Tier 3 as we said, we’ve gone through two modifications in Tier 3 and if we could just hold steady with that,” said Blangiardi.

“It’s a battle against time right, we’re going to hope there’s no surges.”

But a request for modifications to the system is still being reviewed by the governor and state Health Department. And it’s not clear when a new order could be approved.

Gov. David Ige added to the confusion earlier this week by suggesting the city could “ignore” its own order, but added that a modification was likely needed.

Lauren Smith, owner of L-4-Love, said moving back to Tier 2 would be terrible for the economy.

“If there’s any news that like we have to go backwards, they will have to cancel or postpone again, because weddings are not planned overnight,” Smith said.

“We need ample time to be able to communicate all the details to everyone.”

Smith said she had one couple postpone their wedding four times.

She adds that the modified rules allowing outdoor weddings was a blessing, and her inbox was flooded with inquiries, but those modified rules said nothing about the guidelines moving forward.

Now clients are asking her what to do if Oahu rolls back to Tier 2.

“It pains me not to have answers for them, I really have no idea,” said Smith. “And I have to just tell them we need to continue to plan on because we can’t afford the time to just sit around and wait.”

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