Getting rid of distancing rules will give restaurants much needed relief, restaurants say

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – Under current rules, restaurants were required to seat customers six feet apart, even if capacity limits were lifted.

But that is set to change on December 1, after Governor Ige announced the rules would be lifted and no distancing requirements would be in place.

The move will remove a huge financial burden and stress for restaurants, according to restaurant industry executives.

“Today’s announcement will allow restaurants that stand on their last leg to finally have a chance to come out of the COVID slump,” said Ryan Tanaka, new president of the Hawaii Restaurant Association.

According to the Hawaii Restaurant Association, about 100 restaurants closed during the pandemic, resulting in the loss of thousands of jobs. Many others have closed temporarily, unable to make a profit with limited capacity.

“The truth is, we have a lot of other restaurants that need to open, come back, hire people, get people to eat there,” Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi said.

Read related reports:

  • Governor Ige lifts distancing requirements for restaurants and bars from December 1
  • Blangiardi eases COVID restrictions, allowing all major events to operate at full capacity

Nate Pulawa is a manager at Giovanni Pastrami in Waikiki. He says lifting the six-foot social distancing requirement will make a big difference in the number of clients they can serve.

“It’s huge. We’re probably going to have 15 more tables and bar tops. Instead of 12, it will fit 20,” he said.

Blangiardi said Tuesday’s announcement shows the Safe Access Oahu program is working. It requires proof of vaccination or a negative test within 48 hours to enter a restaurant, gym or place of entertainment.

This program will remain in place for the time being with the interior mask mandate.

“I am very happy and very proud … we did not have any grapes in the restaurants,” he said.

The mayors of Kauai and Maui said they also plan to lift social distancing restrictions on restaurants.

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