Blangiardi: No plans to reinstate COVID restrictions for now, despite latest surge

Instead of government telling people what to do, Blangirardi says it should be about personal responsibility.
Published: Dec. 23, 2021 at 11:28 AM HST|Updated: Dec. 23, 2021 at 7:49 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - With Christmas just two days away, Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi is urging Oahu residents to remain vigilant and take extra precautions as Hawaii sees a concerning rise in COVID cases.

In a press conference Thursday, Blangiardi said he will not use his power to stop gatherings, adding there won’t be any new restrictions — at least for the time being.

“We really cannot get out in front of this disease by simply locking down or shutting down the city,” Blangiardi said. “One of the things that’s really fundamentally different today and where we were however many months ago is where we are and what we know about how many people have been vaccinated.”

Now, instead of government telling people what to do, Blangirardi says it should be about personal responsibility.

“We’re going to ask and challenge people to make good decisions. Okay? If you don’t want to go to something. If you feel unsafe then don’t go. And if you do go to something — then do what you’re supposed to do,” he said.

Health officials on Thursday reported 1,511 new infections statewide — 85% of those cases were on Oahu.

Despite the numbers, Blangiardi said he believes the current rules are enough.

“We’re not going to shut down any large gatherings right now even though that’s been recommended,” he said.

Most people Hawaii News Now talked to were supportive of the mayor’s decision.

“I think the precautions are there,” said Tonya Marshall.

Marshall is visiting her son who’s currently stationed at Schofield Barracks Army Base.

“Everywhere we’ve been they’ve required masks,” she said. “We have to show our proof of vaccination and ID.”

It’s part of the Safe Access Oahu Program, which requires proof of full vaccination against COVID or a negative test within 48 hours of entry into businesses such as restaurants, movie theaters, bars and gyms.

“We do have a lot of protection right now. Eight out of nine people on Oahu have been vaccinated,” Blangiardi said. “That’s a good thing so we’re going to see if we can’t work our way and live through this storm.”

Blangiardi anticipates the Omicron surge will get worse before it gets better, saying the city is closely monitoring the number of hospitalizations.

Right now, there are 69 COVID patients hospitalized on Oahu. Ten are in the ICU.

“We think between 150 to 200 (in the hospital) is going to cause real serious concern,” Blangiardi said.

He says that could trigger restrictions like the suspension of large gatherings.

Meanwhile, some families impacted by COVID are pushing for more resources.

HNN spoke with a woman who didn’t want to be identified. She says her husband is sick with the virus.

“Just trying to figure out where to put him. To keep him away from us was very difficult,” she said.

Currently, there is just one quarantine facility on the entire island of Oahu. The city confirms it has a total of 30 units.

The mayor says if a business that’s required to check vaccination cards is not doing it — he wants the public to report them. He says the city will shut them down.

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