Honolulu Mayor Blangiardi announces end of the City’s COVID-19 emergency orders
Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi today announced the end of the City and County of Honolulu’s COVID-19 emergency orders, including the Safe Access O‘ahu program, which will sunset this week at 11:59 p.m. on March 5, 2022.
Mayor Blangiardi made the announcement during a morning press conference, saying it will be the first time since March 4, 2020 that the City and County will not be operating under an emergency order regarding COVID-19.
A similar announcement was made by Maui Mayor Michael Victorino on Friday, calling for the repeal of Maui’s Public Health Emergency Rules, effective Tuesday, March 1, 2022.
While the City’s emergency order for Honolulu will expire, and Maui’s emergency rules are being repealed, the public is advised that Governor David Ige’s current COVID-19 emergency proclamation affecting Safe Travels and the indoor mask mandate, remains in effect through March 25, 2022 unless terminated, superseded by a separate proclamation.
When asked about the vaccine mandate for City employees, Mayor Blangiardi said, “The City’s vaccine mandate comes under the governor’s emergency proclamation. He [the governor] said State and City & County employees–so we can’t change that. We’re going to see. Tomorrow, I believe the governor is having a press conference… but that was one of the things we were not able to change, or wasn’t in our jurisdiction to make that call.”
The decision not to extend the emergency order means the Safe Access O‘ahu program, which required businesses such as restaurants, fitness centers, and events that served food, to verify employees and customers were fully vaccinated or had a negative COVID-19 test, will no longer be a government mandate, according to Mayor Blangiardi’s announcement.
“The last two years have been filled with arduous moments that have impacted everyone in our community from keiki to kūpuna, which is why this is a seminal moment in our pandemic response as we end the City’s emergency order. Let us find joy in this moment as it brings hope, relief and positivity as we look forward to our new way of life where we live with, rather than are led by COVID,” said Mayor Rick Blangiardi in a press release statement after the media briefing.
“Our Safe Access O‘ahu program was implemented at the time of the Delta surge when many were calling for another complete shutdown, which we did not want to impose on our businesses. Instead we created Safe Access O‘ahu to allow businesses to continue to operate in a safe manner, while giving customers confidence and peace of mind in going to restaurants, bars and gyms. It has been highly effective and credited with identifying positive COVID cases that would have likely gone undetected in our communities and furthered the spread of the disease. We applaud the efforts and thank everyone who got vaccinated, boosted, and did all they could to fight this terrible virus. Ending our emergency order and the Safe Access O‘ahu program does not mean we are putting an end to acting safely as it relates to COVID, it means we are focusing our efforts on economic recovery and the return of much-needed community activities. This is an enormous step forward in a positive direction,” he said.
The City’s free COVID-19 testing operations will continue until further notice with reduced operating hours, including at the Airport Mobile Lab located at the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport, the Neal S. Blaisdell Center and the Tom Moffatt Waikīkī Shell.
The City is working to phase out its isolation quarantine facilities located at Harbor Arms and West Loch Modular on March 31, 2022. The isolation quarantine facilities were implemented to provide a safe place to isolate and quarantine for those who otherwise do not have a place to do so, as well as help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 on O‘ahu.
Mayor Blangiardi reports that the demand for the facilities has dropped considerably with the dramatic reduction in positive case counts and hospitalizations.