As COVID crisis eases, mayor to propose that Oahu bars be allowed to serve alcohol until midnight

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Published: Oct. 3, 2021 at 10:44 PM HST|Updated: Oct. 4, 2021 at 5:16 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Honolulu’s mayor says he soon hopes to make changes to the city’s rules for bars, allowing them to serve alcohol until midnight rather than halting service at 10 p.m.

“We really liked the numbers and everywhere we are. The hospitalizations have really now gotten back to a place of being managed,” said Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi.

“So, we’re going to come forth with a proposal to put that back to 12 o’clock at night.”

Several bar owners said stopping service at 10 p.m. is cutting into sales.

Requiring proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test taken in the previous 48 hours — requirements under the Safe Access Oahu program — are also having a big impact.

Wrylo Agno, owner of Pandora Cafe, said since Safe Access Oahu went into effect last month, revenue dipped by over 70%. In August, two weeks of sales at the karaoke bar were at nearly $36,000.

In a two-week period after the program was implemented, Agno said Pandora Cafe cleared just over $10,000.

To try to make ends meet, Agno adjusted work hours for his employees.

“I reduced workdays and I literally just make sure that they make money, you know, or I pay a little bit more just to keep them,” said Agno.

He said extending alcohol sales into midnight is a small win.

“It’s not something that is going to make a big difference, but I know it’s going to allow us to stay in business,” said Agno.

“I know the losses will still be there, but it’s something,” added Agno. “At least they’re trying to work with us, at least they’re hearing our voice and me as a business owner to hear that, makes me very happy.”

Agno said before Safe Access Oahu went into effect, he was slowly recovering.

“I went from having an actual decent sale that was matching pre-COVID,” said Agno.

A move back to a midnight rule for alcohol sales would bring Oahu closer in line to previous restrictions under Tier 4 in June, when bars and nightclubs could operate at 50% capacity if they required customers to show vaccination card or a negative test result.

Blangiardi says it will be some time until the city allows alcohol sales until 2 a.m.

“I know the ideal circumstance is to keep it open later, we’re aware of that,” said Blangiardi. “As soon as we think it’s safe to do that, we will do that.”

The Hawaii Restaurant Association says a 40-50% drop in revenue in recent weeks is being seen industry wide. However, it’s not just from Oahu’s restrictions.

School resuming and Gov. David Ige urging people to avoid travel to Hawaii are also contributing factors, they said.

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