Travelers visiting Honolulu this fall will face new hurdles when visiting restaurants, bars, museums and other places.
Effective Sept. 13, the popular tourist destination on the island of Oahu is requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test taken within 48 hours to enter establishments. Takeout is excluded, and children 12 and younger are exempt.
Places serving alcohol will also have to stop serving at 10 p.m.
Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi said at a news conference on Aug. 30 that the strict measures, which will last for a minimum of 60 days and come a week after he announced restrictions on gatherings, are needed given Hawaii's dire COVID-19 situation.
The same day, Hawaii reported 720 new cases onafter a weekend of record-setting case numbers. and There are were 414 COVID-19 patients in hospitals, close to a breaking point.
Just a month ago, the number of daily cases was below 100 and, in January, when Blangiardi took office, the figure was 15 cases a day.
As many as a third of 911 calls in Honolulu over the weekend were COVID-19 related, with serious issues including trouble breathing, suffocation and cardiac arrest, according to Dr. Jim Ireland, head of Honolulu's emergency management services.
Help didn't reach some of them in time, he said.
"This is in the name of public health,'' Blangiardi said of the new restrictions.
He said he is against shutting down the economy again, even for a short period of time, despite a proposal from Hawaii Lieutenant Gov. Josh Green, a doctor, to issue a stay-at-home order for Labor Day weekend.
"We don’t want a lockdown,'' Blangairdi said. "But we need to all work...to ensure that we don’t all have to do that. And this is a good safe way to get it done.''
He said Honolulu is offering two options for customers rather than mandating vaccines after studying business fallout in other cities.
Hawaii Gov. David Ige took to social media to shut down talk of a lockdown.
There have been rumors circulating about a shut down in Hawaii. I want to clear the record that there are currently no plans to shut down. All posts on social media and being distributed by other means are not true. Official announcements will always come from official channels.
— Governor David Ige (@GovHawaii) August 30, 2021
The Hawaii Restaurant Association supports the new requirements despite concerns they could harm some businesses if people decide not to eat out.
"We need an end (to the COVID-19 surge),'' said Greg Maples, chairman of the association. "We need this to stop.''
Vaccine proof and COVID-19 testing are Hawaii's latest efforts to encourage vaccinations and control the outbreak.
Ige has begged tourists not to visit Hawaii through October.
'I'm conflicted': Hawaii travelers weigh vacation plans after governor announcement
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: New Hawaii COVID restrictions: Show vaccine proof or negative test