Anyone who isn’t vaccinated for COVID-19 soon won’t be able to eat in restaurants and bars, or attend numerous other types of establishments on the Hawaiian Islands of Maui and Oahu. The restrictions, which begin next week, are due to an alarming surge of COVID-19 cases in Hawaii.
The good news is that 64 percent of Hawaii’s population is vaccinated for COVID-19. However, Hawaii has already reported more than twice as many COVID-19 cases this year as it did in all of 2020, Johns Hopkins University data shows.
According to the data, Hawaii has reported 68,764 cases of COVID-19. It had reported 22,007 cases in all of 2020. What’s more, the state reported 6,130 new cases during the last week of August alone.
Here’s what you need to know about the new restrictions on Oahu and Maui.
On Oahu, beginning September 13, a new emergency order will take effect. Under that order, everyone who wants to enter a restaurant or bar — or go to the gym and numerous other establishments — will need to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test result. This requirement will be in effect until at least mid-November.
Other establishments that will also require patrons to present proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test result are gyms, fitness facilities, and dance studios; bowling alleys, arcades, and billiards halls; movie theaters, museums, and indoor sections of botanical gardens, zoos, and other attractions.
“I really want this to come off as a common sense appeal,” Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi said in a press conference. “This is our effort to help with community spread.”
Blangiardi said that including the testing option was important to minimize the economic impact on businesses that have already been struggling.
“We are trying to rebuild,” Blangiardi said in a previous announcement, Hawaii News Now reports. “We don’t want a lockdown.”
Officials in Maui are taking a similar, but slightly different, approach. Beginning September 15, proof of COVID-19 vaccination will be required for everyone who wants to eat indoors in a restaurant or bar in Maui. The requirement will be in effect for at least 30 days.
“Customers will be required to show proof of vaccination to eat indoors,” Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino said at a press conference. “Anyone who can’t show proof of vaccination can eat outside if that establishment has outside seating. Or they can get takeout.”
Victorino said Maui decided not to offer a negative COVID-19 test option for diners and bar patrons because “most people generally don’t plan their evenings out around a COVID test.”
Other restrictions will also begin September 15. For example, bars and restaurants must close by 10 p.m.
Secondly, many tourist activities will be limited by capacity. Group sizes on tours, snorkeling excursions, fishing expeditions, sunset sails, and other activities will be limited at 50 percent of capacity to allow for social distancing. The capacity limit will also apply to all ground transportation services.
Know Before You Go
In a news conference last month, Governor David Ige asked Hawaii residents and visitors to delay all non-essential travel through the end of October 2021 due to the state’s high number of COVID-19 cases. The request is critical because the state’s hospitals are now near capacity — straining its health care facilities and resources.
“It is a risky time to be traveling right now,” Ige said. “I encourage everyone to restrict and curtail travel to Hawaii, residents and visitors alike. This is not a good time to travel to the islands.”
If you are planning to travel to the Hawaiian Islands, keep in mind that the State of Hawaii allows domestic, Hawaii-bound travelers vaccinated in the United States or U.S Territories to bypass the state’s quarantine requirement with proof of vaccination — without getting a pre-travel COVID-19 test.
The situation certainly is in flux and is changing quickly.
If you are planning to travel to Hawaii, be sure to stay up to date on the state’s travel requirements. You can find those details here.