As previously announced, Governor David Ige issued a new emergency proclamation transferring rule-making authority to the county mayors. But only Honolulu announced its rule changes ahead of time. So let’s go over what Hawaii restrictions changed yesterday as the new emergency proclamation took effect.
In my previous coverage, I went over changes being made to Hawaii’s pandemic-era restrictions. Simply put, most state-level restrictions went away on December 1, with county mayors receiving full rule-making authority. That said, Safe Travels remains in place, as does the statewide indoor mask mandate. Naturally, since each county can now make its own rules, things have gotten a bit more convoluted.
What Hawaii Restrictions Changed Yesterday
Mayor Rick Blangiardi announced Honolulu’s updated rules at the same time Governor Ige announced his new emergency proclamation. But, I’ll cover it again here for simplicity’s sake.
Here on Oahu, Mayor Blangiardi immediately announced that social distancing requirements for indoor restaurants, bars, gyms, and entertainment venues are going away on December 1. This move allows all of these establishments to go back to 100% capacity once again, as social distancing requirements. Sure, the state abolished its capacity limits a while ago. But, complying with the social distancing requirements kept capacities low anyhow. Further, Honolulu no longer has a capacity limit for large gatherings or smaller, private social gatherings.
It’s worth noting that Safe Access Oahu is here to stay, at least for now. This means that to dine-in at an indoor restaurant or bar, you must present proof of full vaccination (including the two-week waiting period) or proof of a negative COVID test taken within the past 48hours.
Following Oahu’s lead, Maui County is doing away with social distancing requirements for restaurants and bars too. Also, the county is also eliminating all outdoor restrictions. Where things differ, however, are Maui County’s limits on indoor commercial events. A capacity limit of 75 remains in place, though operators can apply for an exemption. Events with exemptions must adhere to specific safety requirements that must be approved by county officials ahead of time.
Also like Oahu, Maui is keeping its Maui Safer Outside system in place. That means, to dine indoors, you’ll need to show proof of full vaccination, a negative COVID test taken within the past 48 hours, or a letter from a doctor proving that you’ve recovered from a COVID infection.
Like Oahu and Maui, Hawaii county is also doing away with social distancing requirements for restaurants and bars, and did away with the 10-person maximum party size. Capacity limits for restaurants, bars, and barbershops are also going away, while social gathering limits are increasing. Going forward, indoor gathering limits are now 25 (up from 10) and outdoor gathers are now 100 (up from 25).
Hawaii County does not have a vaccine or testing requirement for indoor dining.
Since the repeal of its tier system, the Garden Isle used state-level rules as its own. So, with Governor Ige’s repeal of most state-level restrictions, Kauai no longer follows any of those either, including those regarding social distancing and capacity limits. The only rules now in effect outside of the state-level ones mentioned earlier are those governing gathering sizes. Going forward, Kauai County is allowing social gatherings of up to 40 participants in indoor settings and up to 100 in outdoor settings. Organizers are allowed to exceed those limits. However, for non-conforming gatherings an event coordinator must verify that all participants are fully vaccinated or have tested negative for COVID-19 within the past 24 hours. What’s more, event organizers no longer need to notify the Kauai Emergency Management Agency.
If you asked me a couple of weeks ago about these changes, I would’ve said that it’s about time. But, with Omicron now a thing and case rates rising around the world (even before Omicron), I’m not so sure. While they’re great for businesses, these changes to our rules will likely keep me out of restaurants and bars, at least for now. That said, its up to the individual business owners to adopt these changes or not. Some will more than likely stick too stricter safety protocols on their own volition. And those are the businesses I’m more likely to patronize for the time being. That said, it’s important to continue supporting our local businesses as much as possible.
So, please, don’t hassle business owners for adopting or not adopting the new rules. If you don’t like it, either get your meal to-go or go elsewhere. We all need to stick together during these trying times and continue to spread aloha instead of germs!