Oahu gyms may start reopening and other business restrictions could be eased as soon as Thursday when the City and County of Honolulu moves to the second tier of its COVID-19 reopening plan, Mayor Kirk Caldwell announced Tuesday.

Under the Tier 2 plan, gyms and arcades could open at 25% capacity, restaurants and bowling alleys could allow groups of five people, helicopter tours could reopen at half capacity, and legal short-term rentals could begin operating again. Golf would move to a “Hawaii Golf Phase 2.5.”

Caldwell said a request to approve the plan is sitting on Gov. David Ige’s desk.

“It’s as likely as it possibly can be,” Caldwell said of the chances that Honolulu will stay the course and move to Tier 2 on Thursday.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell announces that on thursday there will be a [artial reopening of Honolulu.
Mayor Kirk Caldwell announced Tuesday that Oahu is ready to start Tier 2 of its reopening strategy Thursday. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2020

Oahu has been under a tiered system of reopening since late August, when the mayor implemented a second stay at home order to quell spread of the virus. At the time, daily cases were well over 100 a day, and on some days reaching 200 positive cases.

To move to Tier 2, the seven-day average of coronavirus case counts on Oahu had to remain below 100. And the rates at which COVID-19 tests return positive had to remain below 5%.

As of Tuesday, the average daily case count was 62, and the positivity rate was 2.9%.  The state reported 91 cases Tuesday, with 61 on Oahu.

At a press conference Tuesday, Caldwell encouraged businesses to prepare to reopen.

He said there would be no inspections from the city required before any of those businesses reopen, but urged those establishments — such as restaurants that could allow more people to dine-in — to follow public safety guidelines and those laid out in the reopening plan.

The impending move to reopen more business activities also comes as the state reopens to tourists. More than 8,000 travelers flew to Hawaii on Thursday, the first day the state allowed travelers to skip a mandatory 14-day quarantine if they could prove they tested negative for COVID-19 up to 72 hours before their flight.

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