COVID restrictions being reconsidered amid daily fall in cases

HONOLULU (KHON2) — The downward trend in COVID-19 cases is causing county and state officials to reconsider restrictions, but Hawaii health officials continue to urge people to maintain vigils.

Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi’s office said they have been in talks with the restaurant industry about further easing COVID restrictions. This is welcome news for some restaurant owners.

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The mayor’s communications director said in a statement: “Safe access Oahu is the only remaining restriction set solely by the City and County of Honolulu. It’s being discussed and the mayor is in touch with leaders in the restaurant industry.”

Restaurant owners like Kevin Aoki said he hoped cases would stay low so restrictions would end soon.

“One big positive thing is that we don’t have to screen people entering the restaurant, that’s a positive thing. The great thing is that we’re going to have more of an aloha spirit, more travelers are coming to Hawaii, and it’s going to help the economy as a whole.”

Kevin Aoki, restaurant owner

Safe access Oahu was introduced in Septembercustomers in restaurants, cinemas, gyms and other places are required to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test.

“When you’re busy and in a hurry, it all slows things down,” said Murphy’s Bar and Grill owner Don Murphy. “And it takes someone to do that. That affects the service, so I think the service will get better.”

The city’s current emergency order expires on March 5, and Mayor Blangiardi’s office said the COVID numbers are working in their favor, but they are continuing to monitor the situation.

As states like California drop mask requirements for vaccinated individuals, Gov. David Ige said the state’s mandate for indoor masks is part of the discussion with the Hawaii Department of Health (DOH).

Ige said, “I’m working with the DOH to determine when is the right time for Hawaii to lift the indoor mask mandate.”

Meanwhile, Big Island Mayor Mitch Roth is considering lifting all outdoor restrictions but is sticking with indoor mitigation measures.

A spokesman for Kauai Mayor Derek Kawakami said he would follow the governor’s directions.

Get more coronavirus news: COVID vaccines, booster shots and safe travel information

The DOH continues to encourage eligible individuals to receive a booster shot. Although coronavirus cases are declining, 99 COVID-related deaths have been reported so far in the month of February.

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