As Omicron variant surges, counties under pressure to restrict gatherings

Published: Dec. 28, 2021 at 5:26 PM HST|Updated: Dec. 29, 2021 at 5:09 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - With the surge of the Omicron variant, Hawaii County is reinstating some COVID rules ― and other leaders are under pressure to do the same.

Big Island officials are reducing the indoor gathering limit to 10 people from 25 and Maui’s Mayor Mike Victorino said he is also looking at additional restrictions.

On Oahu, meanwhile, the Healthcare Association of Hawaii is calling for new restrictions on large in-door gatherings like concerts.

“We are concerned about large events, we are concerned about the night clubs and we are calling and will be calling for some restrictions in some of those very high risk areas,” said Hilton Raethel, association CEO and president.

Some venues like the Hawaii Theatre are voluntarily postponing shows this month and next.

Meanwhile, Blue Note Hawaii announced Tuesday that the band The Green, which was supposed to play in December and January, had to postpone until March after band members contracted COVID.

But concert promoter Rick Bartalini said large events can be conducted safely. Bartalini is promoting Bill Maher’s 10th Anniversary New Year’s Show at the Blaisdell.

“For our New Year’s show, it’s vaccination or testing only,” he said.

“No water, no food, the masks cannot be taken off during any period of time or that ticket holder will be removed.”

Bartalini says shutting down large events will hurt the economy.

“You’re talking hundreds of people from the caterer to security to the folks who work at the venues ― the stage hands, the union ― again they have been out of work for a year and a half,” he said.

So far, Honolulu’s mayor agrees.

On Sunday, Mayor Rick Blangiardi said he’s planning no new restrictions because Hawaii’s healthcare system isn’t being overtaxed by the new variant.

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