Hawaii eases COVID rules for college football, other events

October 9, 2021 GMT

HONOLULU (AP) — Honolulu will soon begin allowing a limited number of fans at University of Hawaii football games and other outdoor entertainment events as it begins to ease restrictions protecting the community from COVID-19.

Hawaii Gov. David Ige and Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi said Friday they were taking the steps in response to improving public health data, including rising vaccination rates and declining numbers of cases, hospitalized patients and test positivity rates.

Starting Oct. 13, outdoor venues may have up to 1,000 attendees or fill up to 50% of capacity — whichever is smaller. For the next Hawaii football home game on Oct. 23, attendees will likely be limited to family and friends of players.

Attendees will need to be vaccinated, wear masks and maintain physical distance. No food will be allowed and water will be the only authorized beverage.

Restrictions on indoor entertainment, outdoor weddings and funerals, golf tournaments, road races and triathlons will also be eased.

Ige said the goal was to manage Hawaii’s health care infrastructure while taking prudent risks and building back the state’s economy.

“This is not an all clear signal. The pandemic is far from finished in Hawaii, in the nation and around the world,” Ige said.

Even so, Ige said circumstances were different now than from earlier in the pandemic. Last year at this time, the governor said, 7-10% of people who tested positive for COVID-19 needed to be hospitalized. The current rate is 1-2%, he said.

Also, monoclonal antibody treatments can avert severe illness and hospitalization when administered during the first five days of infection, he said.

The governor said he’s working with the mayors of Kauai, Maui and Hawaii counties about easing rules on their respective islands.

He also expects to make an announcement next week regarding inviting visitors to return to the islands. In late August, Ige asked visitors to curtail travel to Hawaii as the state grappled with a surge in cases brought on by the delta variant. Many travelers still came, but visitor numbers dropped significantly.

On Oahu, 84% of the population 12 years and older is fully vaccinated and 92% has gotten at least one shot.

On Friday, the seven-day average of new cases was at 125, down from 636 on Aug. 29. The percentage of tests coming back positive stood at 3% over the past week, versus 7.8% in late August.