Football fans may fill the stadium and runners may compete in the Honolulu Marathon without masks, Mayor Rick Blangiardi said Wednesday in unveiling plans to loosen Covid-19 restrictions amid a decline in cases.

Organizers will be allowed to hold outdoor and indoor seating events at 100% capacity starting next Wednesday, although masks and proof of Covid-19 vaccination are still required. Blangiardi said water will be allowed, but no food.

This includes sporting events, marathons and concerts. Restaurants, bars, and gyms will still be limited to 50% capacity but may stay open until 2 a.m., starting immediately.

“We’ve finally come to a long-awaited moment with good news,” Blangiardi said at a news conference. “We go forward, we go forward carefully, we go forward with love in our hearts and concern for our public, but we go forward. And we’re going to do that in a positive way.”

Mayor Rick Blangiardi says Honolulu will ease up on large-scale events starting Nov. 3.
Mayor Rick Blangiardi says Honolulu will ease up on large-scale events starting Nov. 3. Cassie Ordonio/Civil Beat/2021

The new guidelines mean the University of Hawaii’s Ching Field will be open to about 9,000 people if they can fill up those seats. UH has two more home football games before the year ends. Previous crowds were limited to 1,000 or fewer to adhere to Covid guidelines.

Blangiardi added that the annual Honolulu Marathon will continue with no masks or capacity limit. He noted that it’s unclear how many people will attend this year, but groups up to 200 are allowed.

Other road races and triathlons will be able to include an unlimited number of fully vaccinated participants but will be held in staggered groups of up to 50 people each. Starting Nov. 24, that number will increase to 200.

Interactive events such as funerals and weddings will be kept at half capacity – up to 150 people max for indoor events and 500 for those held outdoors, with continued mask and vaccination requirements. The number will increase on Nov. 24 to 300 at indoor events, and no attendee limit for outdoor events.

In recent weeks, the Covid-19 case count has been trending downward after peaking in August.

The Department of Health reported 184 cases on Wednesday, increasing the statewide total to 83,706 since the pandemic began in March 2020. One death also was recorded, raising the death toll to 889.

So far, 71% of the population is fully vaccinated, and the numbers hike up to 83% if eligible 12-year-old kids are counted, according to DOH data.

Hilton Raethel, President and CEO of Healthcare Association of Hawaii.
Hilton Raethel, president and CEO of the Healthcare Association of Hawaii, says Hawaii has the lowest infection rate and the second lowest death rate in the nation. Cory Lum

Hilton Raethel, the president and CEO of the Hawaii Health Care Association, also took the podium to announce that Hawaii has the lowest infection rate and the second-lowest death rate in the nation.

“We have done incredibly well as a state because we followed the Covid initiatives, we’ve done the mask-wearing, we’ve done the social distancing and we have had so many people who have been vaccinated,” Raethel said. “We are very proud to be here.”

“We look forward to working with the mayor, the other cities, the other counties, the governor and the Department of health as we continue to open up the state and reward our citizens for doing what they needed to do,” he continued.

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