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Governor Gives Contingent Timeline For Lifting Restrictions On Masks, Restaurant Capacities

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After giving tourists the “all clear” signal to resume visiting Hawaii beginning November 1st, Governor David Ige dove into more detail yesterday and got specific about when other restrictions in the islands might be removed.

Speaking to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, Ige explained what the next couple months could bring in terms of lifting (or not lifting) restrictions. Here are the key takeaways:

The goal is to reduce restrictions by the end of the year.

If all goes according to plan, Ige’s target date to reduce or remove some of the restrictions is the “end of the year.” This affirms that the restrictions currently in place will be in effect throughout the upcoming holiday season.

The indoor mask mandate depends on the daily infection rate.

One of the most significant revelations in Ige’s comments is that he is basing the continuation of his restrictions upon the daily infection rate. As of this writing, the statewide average of new daily COVID-19 infections is 121.

Ige said that if that number drops below 100 and remains there, he would consider dropping the indoor mask mandate.

Restaurant capacities are tied to the daily case average as well.

Currently, restaurants are capped at 50% occupancy on Oahu and Maui. Ige said that if the daily average gets and remains below 100, he would look into lifting those restrictions.

Recently, bars on Oahu were granted extended hours and allowed to serve alcohol until midnight. Previously, they had to close at 10 p.m.

Large events, like the Honolulu Marathon, will be permitted.

Ige gave the green light for the Honolulu Marathon to take place in December, pointing out that it’s an outdoor event and that it will be smaller than usual due to the lack of Japanese tourists.

It was an important statement because large outdoor events are still under scrutiny in the islands. For example, University of Hawaii football games, which take place outside, are still capped at 1,000 attendees per Ige’s own orders.

Specifics remain unclear, and we’ve seen this before…

It is great news to hear Ige say he will consider reducing restrictions, and it’s even better for him to lay out some specific criteria. However, we’ve seen this kind of thing before.

In fact, this discussion comes not long after Ige backtracked on a previous promise to eliminate the Safe Travels program, which requires visitors and returning residents to provide proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test to avoid quarantine, once the vaccination rate of the population reached 70%.

So, while we are excited to see a new set of criteria, we have to accept the fact that things can, and probably will, change. We will, of course, stay on the case and provide updates along the way.

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