HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The city won’t bring back any additional COVID restrictions and will remain in Tier 3 for at least the next four weeks, under a plan approved by the governor.
“I would like to thank Gov. Ige for his support and allowing the community to stay in Tier 3, which has a profound impact on our businesses, families and community,” Mayor Rick Blangiardi said, in a news release issued about 4 p.m. Wednesday.
“We are focused on the broader definition of health and I believe moving back to Tier 2 at this point would have had a tremendous negative impact on the overall health and economic recovery, including the impacts on livelihoods, jobs and mental and emotional health.”
Many Oahu businesses were holding their breath, waiting for word on a decision.
Over at Lucky Strike Honolulu, bartenders spent the day brushing up on their computer skills in preparation of the bar’s grand reopening Thursday.
The business has been shuttered for the past 13 months.
“It’s our big opening day,” said bar manager Chelsea Morimoto. “We’re going to start up at 4 p.m.”
Bartender Stephanie Miranda seemed ecstatic to be back on the job.
“Man, I was just so ready to come back here,” she said. “We all just want to get back to work. You know it’s hard out there.”
Unlike many bars on Oahu that rushed to reopen after getting the go-ahead last month, Lucky Strike spent the past three weeks fine-tuning its new safety measures as well as watching case numbers.
“We wanted to be able to make sure the numbers were low, that we would be able to have safety precautions in place, and that guests would feel comfortable about wanting to come back,” Morimoto said.
Miranda told HNN it’s comforting to know she’ll soon have tips and a paycheck coming her way.
“We have bills to pay catch up on,” she said.
Because of rising case counts, Oahu was in danger of “falling back” to Tier 2 restrictions on Thursday.
But Blangiardi earlier said he was “dead set” against that and sought modifications to the tier system. Those modifications weren’t approved, but the governor did agree to a reprieve.
The additional time is designed to preserve the fragile recovery that Oahu businesses have seen in recent weeks while also trying to keep new infections in check.
“The next four weeks are critical in determining if we can continue in Tier 3 or are forced to take a step backwards,” Blangiardi said, in the news release.
The seven-day average for new cases on Oahu stands at 58 with a 2% positivity rate.
Blangiardi has said the tier system is too restrictive for the current situation, with about 30% of Oahu residents fully or partially vaccinated.
While cases have gone up, he notes, hospitalizations are low.