Pandemic restrictions that have been in place since October will loosen starting on Thursday as the island enters Tier 3 of its reopening plan, Mayor Rick Blangiardi announced on Tuesday.

Restaurants and retail establishments that have been operating at 50% capacity will be able to return to full capacity, social gatherings can increase from five to 10 people and funerals can expand from 10 to 25 people, according to the tier structure.

Social distancing and mask wearing will still be required.

“There is a lot to celebrate about this. You deserve it,” Blangiardi said. “Congratulations. Well done.”

Mayor Rick Blangiardi flashes a shaka after the press conference announcing new COVID-19 informational banners that will installed along Kalakaua Avenue. February 11, 2021
Mayor Rick Blangiardi is allowing restaurants and retail establishments to return to full capacity. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2021

The mayor said he has asked Gov. David Ige for additional modifications to the tier system that would include allowing team sports. Outdoor organized team sports are not allowed under the current system until Tier 4, when Honolulu is averaging 20 COVID-19 cases per week and a test positivity rate under 1%.

Residents, especially youth, have been missing out on the physical and mental benefits of athletics, Blangiardi said.

“There has been a real void there, and we’d really like to get that back on track,” he said.

The mayor said he has a “list of modifications” he is asking Ige to approve. However, he refused to share it.

Oahu reported 27 new virus cases on Tuesday and no new deaths. The island’s seven-day case average is 29 and its weeklong positivity rate is 1.1%.

“We have a very low rate of spread, very low rate of infection,” Blangiardi said. “And also, we’re not burdening our hospitals.”

If cases decrease, Honolulu could move to Tier 4 as soon as March 25, the mayor said. That would allow social gatherings of up to 25 people, including in restaurants, fitness classes and other commercial attractions.

COVID-19 spreads more easily indoors than outdoors, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Viral spread has been documented to occur among people more than six feet apart in places that are poorly ventilated, and dozens of scientists have called for national public health guidance that would directly address airborne transmission.

However, as Honolulu allows restaurants to operate at full capacity, the city is not imposing any ventilation requirements for restaurants, Blangiardi said. The mayor suggested that restaurants keep their windows and doors open.

“There are no specific ventilation requirements,” the mayor said. “It’s been extremely difficult for those restaurants who have been allowed to stay open and operate at 50% capacity.”

For more info go to by Honolulu Department of Emergency Management

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