Roth increases gathering sizes for indoor, outdoor events

Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today The Fish Hopper is looking forward to expanded capacity at restaurants and bars covered under Mayor Mitch Roth’s latest proclamation.

Hawaii County Mayor Mitch Roth on Tuesday eased some of the COVID restrictions in place on the Big Island.

Roth’s signing of Emergency Rule No. 19 comes on the heels of Gov. David Ige’s Nov. 23 proclamation signed Monday that ended a state requirement in place since March 2020 that Ige sign off on county emergency rules. Statewide limits on social gatherings, restaurants, bars and gyms also end today.


“Moving forward, each county will need the ability to quickly adapt to the needs of their individual communities as we begin to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic and on to a new and better normal,” Roth said in a prepared statement issued Tuesday afternoon that also noted no interviews with the mayor would be made available until today. “We have seen the unique needs of our island home over the past year, and we are confident that by continuing to work together, hand-in-hand, while sticking to what we know works, we will be able to keep our ]island safe while restoring our economy and getting people back to the activities that they love most. That said, we are grateful to Governor Ige for acknowledging our needs and granting us the opportunity to pivot as necessary.”

The relaxed restrictions include, but aren’t limited to, an increase in gathering sizes from 10 to 25 for indoor events and from 25 to 100 for outdoor events; expanded capacity of restaurants, bars, and barbershops; and an increase in capacity of indoor and outdoor recreational areas. The new rule signed Tuesday no longer requires a 6-foot distance between individuals or groups in restaurants and bars, nor does it prohibit groups larger than 10 from assembling at those establishments.

Facemasks are still mandated in indoor gathering settings, and are strongly encouraged outdoors in large groups.

Approved COVID-19 mitigation measures will be required for all events or activities with the potential to generate gatherings over the permitted maximum number of persons allowed.

“There is still much uncertainty in how the virus will continue to mutate, and we encourage all our residents not to let their guard down,” said Roth in the Tuesday afternoon statement. “So long as everyone follows the rules and remains mindful of their neighbors, we will be able to continue easing restrictions and reopen with a measured approach. Vaccines remain our best defense against COVID-19, and we ask that everyone who hasn’t gotten their vaccine or booster, but would like to, do so as soon as possible.”

The current rule will remain in effect until Jan. 28, 2022.

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