Honolulu Limits Access To Bars, Gyms, Museums In Plea To Get Vaccinated

by Jeremy

Honolulu said Monday that customers would need proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test to enter a slate of businesses beginning next month as concerns grow over the spread of the delta variant of the coronavirus.

Mayor Rick Blangiardi said the new program, dubbed “Safe Access Oahu,” will take effect on Sept. 13. It mirrors rules that many locations across the nation have adopted since the Food and Drug Administration gave its full approval to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on Aug. 23. The restrictions will apply to many lifestyle and entertainment venues, including restaurants, bars, movie theaters, museums, and gyms, among other locations.Honolulu Limits Access To Bars, Gyms, Museums In Plea To Get Vaccinated

If customers are not fully vaccinated, the negative test must be from within the past 48 hours. Children younger than 12, who are not yet eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine, are exempt from the requirements.

“This is about public health — with numbers like nothing we’ve seen before,” Blangiardi said, pointing to surging infection rates and entire hospital wards. “We’re begging people to get vaccinated, and anywhere we can enforce it, we will.”

Today, we announced a new program called “Safe Access O’ahu” as part of our collective efforts to aggressively counteract the surge of #COVID19 cases in our community. This program was developed in collaboration with local business and restaurant leaders. pic.twitter.com/rx3i93ilY4

— Mayor Rick Blangiardi (@MayorRickHNL) August 31, 2021

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser added that the program would be in place for 60 days as officials determine if it effectively slows the spread of new infections. Businesses that fail to comply will be fined and possibly shut down, Blangiardi said.

“We wanted to have a common-sense approach,” the mayor said. “We are trying to rebuild. We don’t want a lockdown.”

Hawaii has one of the highest vaccination rates in the nation, with more than 66% of adults fully inoculated against COVID-19. But the delta variant has upended reopening plans and strained hospital systems even in regions with such positive statistics. The state’s largest hospitals said their intensive care units were almost at capacity earlier this month.

The move follows last week’s plea by Hawaii Gov. David Ige (D) for tourists to postpone their trips to the islands while the delta variant spreads throughout the community.

“Now is not the time to visit the islands,” Ige told reporters last week. “It’s a risky time to be traveling right now.”

The state still requires unvaccinated travelers to show a negative test result or quarantine for ten days before being allowed in public. I said Hawaii would not tighten its entry requirements, which were loosened last month for vaccinated visitors.

The Washington Post reported that more than 791,000 people arrived in Hawaii by plane in June.

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