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Thursday, January 6, 2022
Capacity at larger indoor gatherings temporarily restricted through January in response to Omicron
By News Release @ 3:09 AM :: 880 Views :: Honolulu County, Small Business, COVID-19

Capacity at larger indoor gatherings temporarily restricted through January in response to Omicron surge

News Release from Office of the Mayor, January 5, 2022

HONOLULU – Mayor Rick Blangiardi signed emergency order 2022-01 today which caps large indoor gatherings of more than 1,000 people at 50% capacity. For example, if an event expects to have 1,000 attendees the total capacity of the venue must be more than 2,000 people. This measure was put in place following extensive consultations with healthcare leaders including the State Department of Health.  Order 2022-1 shall be effective Monday, Jan. 10 through Monday, Jan. 31, 2022.

“Our medical experts tell us there is no one thing by itself that will completely stop the Omicron surge, however we are limiting capacity at the largest and highest risk events for the next three weeks,” said Mayor Rick Blangiardi. “Honolulu has a lot of heart, resilience, and grit, and we see individuals and businesses using common sense and taking personal responsibility by independently limiting interactions, postponing events and adjusting operations. These efforts at protecting ourselves and each other will help us get through this Omicron surge.”

“There's a lot of shock and awe going on right now about case counts, and while they do matter, the key metric is our level of hospitalizations,” continued Mayor Blangiardi. “Just because we have not implemented a long list of restrictions, does not mean we are doing nothing. The narrative and dynamics have changed and so has our strategy in dealing with Omicron. There are a lot of factors in dealing with a public health crisis and we are navigating through all of them to get us through to the other side.”

“We all know that it’s been two years that we have worked together and battled a pandemic,” said Jill Hoggard Green, PhD, RN, The Queen’s Health Systems president and CEO. “As a community, when we’ve leaned in - and we have - we’ve been able to navigate all this safely and effectively. Today is one of those moments. We are battling the COVID Omicron variant, and this is a little different from the ones we’ve seen in the past. All the reports say it’s less severe in terms of illness, but the fact that it moves so rapidly means more individuals can be impacted. There are things that you and your ohana can do to stay well and healthy. The first and most important is to be vaccinated with a booster. We’re going to do everything in our power to expand access to vaccinations, with the support of the mayor. We’re going to increase our vaccination rates by 50% starting today, and we’re on target to make sure we can double by next week. We want to ensure that you can get that shot in your arm, and that your family can get their shots in their arms. That’s the single most important thing you can do.”

“As I've discussed with the mayor, there does not appear to be a policy, at this time, that really changes the rate of the transmission and the transmissibility of this virus in a meaningful way relative to the other impacts on the broader health of the community, including the economic impact on our state,” said Hawai‘i Pacific Health President and CEO Ray Vara. “In many ways, the manner in which this variant is presenting itself shows progress. It's part of what I would consider moving towards living in an endemic environment, versus a pandemic environment. So, as we see the evolution of this variant, and likely with future variants, we’ll see our ability to live with the virus be greater with each step of the process. As long as we all do our part and take personal responsibility, we will be best suited to combat COVID-19.”

“We have to learn to use the tools we have in our arsenal to live with this disease and mitigate the impact it can have on our lives,” said Hawai‘i Medical Service Association President and CEO Mark Mugiishi, M.D., F.A.C.S. “We are going on three years now sacrificing our mental health and well-being because we've had to give up things we love. Our kids have given up two years of development. We have all these tools. Let's use them so we can move on. The virus is changing. Medical science is advancing. People are adapting. Let's heed the call of personal responsibility to make sure that we are doing what it takes to move forward.”

“No pill or other therapy will save every COVID patient, however we can still protect ourselves, our kūpuna, our keiki and our friends and neighbors,” said Healthcare Association of Hawai‘i President and CEO Hilton R. Raethel. “It is not inevitable that you will get COVID. Your actions can make a difference. Your family, friends, and especially health care workers will thank you.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data indicates that vaccinated individuals, particularly those receiving a booster, will have the strongest protection against Omicron and are less likely to suffer severe illness or death. Accordingly, the CDC has advised that the recent emergence of Omicron further emphasizes the importance of vaccination, boosters, and general prevention strategies.

Nonetheless, the highly transmissible Omicron variant, and the state’s limited healthcare capacity still require the City to mitigate the person-to-person spread of COVID-19 in certain high risk environments and the Safe Access Oahu program will remain in place to protect the public health, promote public safety, and save lives. Additionally, larger gatherings generally involve groups of unassociated people interacting and sharing the same air for a substantial period of time, and masking requirements will also continue to mitigate that risk of infection. 

To read the full text of the emergency order please click here.

People are urged to get vaccinated and boosted to help protect themselves from the severe effects of COVID-19. To find a location on O‘ahu where you can receive your free vaccination or booster shot please visit: https://www.oneoahu.org/vaccine

The Safe Access O‘ahu program continues to remain in place for businesses serving food for on-premise consumption and gyms/fitness centers to help prevent the transmission of disease. O‘ahu residents can visit https://www.oneoahu.org/safe-access-oahu for more information and access to resources. The City’s COVID-19 information call center remains open every day from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., except on holidays. People can call the (808) 768-CITY (2489) information hotline or email: covidresponse@honolulu.gov

—PAU—

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