Effective immediately, sporting events on Oahu can once again welcome spectators in groups of up to 10 people after Gov. David Ige approved Mayor Rick Blangiardi’s request for a pandemic rule change, the mayor announced on Monday.

In a statement, the mayor said that outdoor sporting events have been operating for two COVID-19 incubation periods, and he doesn’t believe any virus cases are tied to the activities.

“Now that the participants have been allowed to return to play, and done so safely, the logical next step is to allow for spectators,” Blangiardi said.

The adjustment comes after much criticism of the spectator ban, including from U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz. In a statement, Schatz called it “great news for families and for public health.”

“Outdoor exercise is just about the healthiest thing that can be done, pandemic or not,” he said. “And watching your kids play a sport is one of the great joys of life. Lots of families are thankful for this change.”

The senator added that he looks forward to “additional announcements regarding ocean sports.”

The updated emergency order states that while people are allowed on the sidelines, face coverings must be worn when physical distancing from individuals outside of one’s household is not possible. The rule continues to prohibit socializing and potlucks at fields and courts before or after the scheduled sports activity, according to a city press release.

The mayor noted that Hawaii is among the states with the highest vaccination numbers, and he urged young people 12 years and older who are now eligible to get the shots.

“The more people who get vaccinated, the sooner we can ease more restrictions,” the mayor said.

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