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Governor didn’t approve city’s planned reboot of large indoor events but has no plans to stop it

Published: Oct. 28, 2021 at 5:33 PM HST|Updated: Oct. 29, 2021 at 5:21 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Gov. David Ige says he’s not comfortable with the city’s plan to allow large indoor events on Oahu, but won’t stop Honolulu’s mayor from moving forward.

Ige says indoor “interactive” events ― like weddings ― pose the highest risk for COVID transmission.

In a statement, he also said the state will continue to work with the city to “discuss the risks and the city’s responsibilities in responding to a surge in COVID-19 cases if one occurs.”

The city’s decision to move forward with plans to dramatically ease restrictions on large events without the state’s approval is a departure from how the county and governor operated earlier in the pandemic.

In April 2020, during the first COVID lockdown, Ige said changes regarding any COVID emergency rules by the counties needed his OK. But after more than a year and a half of pandemic restrictions, some county mayors appear to have had enough waiting on the governor.

“This is about going forward and living with it,” said Blangiardi. “We have shifted from a pandemic to an endemic,” he added.

Colin Moore, director of UH’s Center for Public Policy, said it appears the mayors are “no longer willing to toe the line” when it comes the governor’s approach to COVID.

On Wednesday, in announcing his plan for large events, Blangiardi acknowledged the state Health Department and governor were opposed to restoring indoor entertainment venues to full capacity.

The mayor did, however, have the blessing of the Healthcare Association of Hawaii.

“All of our decision-making was predicated on data. It was all in our favor. It was time to make that decision and we made it,” said Blangiardi.

Maui Mayor Mike Victorino bucked Ige’s wishes earlier this month when he allowed families to watch their children at non-DOE sporting events.

“Someone has told me you’re countering the governor’s order and I believe it’s the right thing to do,” said Victorino. “No offense to the governor. I don’t mean to be disrespectful,” he added.

Moore says Ige’s caution has been good for Hawaii’s COVID safety.

But with concerns about the economy and people’s emotional well-being, the mayors are under intense pressure by people fed up of the pandemic.

“They get really hit hard by people who are struggling as a result of these closures so I think they feel more direct political pressure to move more quickly than the governor,” said Moore.

Is Blangiardi tired of Ige’s approach?

“No, I’m not going to say I’m tired about anything about the governor. He’s got the state to run,” the mayor said. “We’ve got the city and at the end of the day right now I feel like we are in a good place.”

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