With Hawaii reporting one of the highest vaccination rates in the country and Covid-19 case counts falling after a late-summer surge, Gov. David Ige announced a reduction in regulations on businesses and activities that will start Dec. 1.
On that day, all statewide restrictions on social gatherings, gyms, bars and restaurants will be lifted. Additionally, the state will no longer require county mayors to receive state approval before creating emergency rules, allowing mayors more flexibility to enact and adjust emergency regulations for their counties, Ige said in a press conference last week.
"Hawaii continues to have amongst the lowest rates of infection and fatalities in the nation due to the Covid-19 pandemic," the governor said. "As we have seen an improvement and stabilization of the virus activity in our community, it really is a good time to pivot state coordination back to the counties."
On Nov. 23, Honolulu mayor Rick Blangiardi, whose jurisdiction includes the entire island of Oahu, announced the end of capacity limits and social-distancing requirements for large events and social gatherings, also starting on Dec. 1.
Large events without any food and drink service will be allowed to operate with a mask requirement alone. Events with food and drinks will need to follow the Safe Access Oahu rules, which require either proof of vaccination or a negative result for a Covid-19 test taken within 48 hours of the event. A previous requirement for contact tracing has been lifted.
The elimination of capacity limits on large events is seen as a crucial step toward resuming meetings and conventions on the island.
"Capacity restrictions being lifted for events on Oahu is welcomed news for Hawaii's meetings, conventions and incentives market and the Hawaii Convention Center, as it will allow us to retain group bookings and secure new group business," HTA president and CEO John De Fries said in a statement. "The announcement gives meeting planners added confidence to book events and reassure attendees they will have a safe and memorable visit here in the Hawaiian Islands."
A statewide indoor mask mandate and Hawaii's SafeTravels Program, which screens incoming passengers to the Aloha State and requires a self-quarantine period for arrivals who are not vaccinated and decline to take a Covid-19 test prior to travel, remain in effect.
Hawaii's current rate of 10 Covid-19 cases per day per 100,000 people is the third lowest in the U.S., and 72% of the total population is fully vaccinated.