Ige relaxes rules on outdoor activities in restaurants, but social distancing is still required indoors

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) — On Nov. 12, the governor will drop all COVID restrictions for outdoor activities at restaurants, bars and gyms.

But the rules of social distancing inside will remain in place.

Governor David Ige made the announcement at a news conference on Tuesday, saying outdoor activities remain a safer option. “We believe outdoor activities are significantly safer,” he said.

He said his new emergency proclamation would not affect Oahu’s rules for managed events.

Under the new rules, restaurants, bars and gyms won’t have to meet any capacity or social distancing requirements for outdoor activities.

But indoors, the restrictions depend on the county you are in.

Only counties with programs that require customers to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test can reach full capacity. Right now this covers Oahu and Maui County.

Counties without these rules will have to stick to 50% capacity.

However, all restaurants, bars and restaurants will have to continue to follow social distancing rules.

Business owners said adhering to 6 feet of social distancing has effectively reduced their capacity, limiting the number of people they can fit into their establishments.

The governor defended keeping social distancing rules in place, saying they are based on CDC guidelines. He acknowledges that social distancing limits the capacity of sites.

“It’s about finding a balance,” Ige said. “We think that’s an important part of mitigation.”

The fact that the governor is essentially maintaining indoor restrictions at restaurants, bars and gyms is a blow to those businesses — and comes as Oahu allows large, professionally-hosted events.

This story will be updated.

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