Roth eases outdoor gathering rule

  • ROTH

Mayor Mitch Roth has amended his COVID-19 emergency rule to increase the size of outdoor social gatherings from 10 people to 25, subject to approval by Gov. David Ige.

Indoor social gatherings or groups would still be restricted to 10 people, Roth said Friday.


Roth said he’s had preliminary conversations with the state and is hoping for approval of the plans by Monday.

Face coverings will still be required, and physical distancing of six feet between separate groups must be maintained.

“We’re also looking at some business exemptions for events where the business gives us their safety plans,” Roth said. “If the safety plans are OK, we’ll be allowing for more than 25. We’ll be vetting (the plans), event by event.”

Those seeking exemptions for their events would be required to submit their plans to Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency, with the Office of the Mayor having final approval.

“We’re looking at a process of getting them through quickly,” Roth said. “The proclamation will have how many per table are allowed, spacing (and) other safety measures. We don’t want people to just congregate and spread the disease, so we’re looking at safety protocols. The Palace Theater is a good example. If they want to have a show, and their safety plans meet our protocols, then we can give them permission to do it. The same applies to a hotel if they want to have an event with more than the 25 people.

“But it’s not just they can have the events. They have to have the safety plans, and their protocols have to be approved. We know there’s a lot of events that people want to have, and if their protocols meet the standards, and they get their plans approved, then they can have the events.”

Roth said he also is considering opening up some county gyms for sporting events.

The amended emergency rule forwarded to the governor, however, notes all county gyms remain closed, as well as community centers and senior centers, Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium, Wong Stadium and Waiakea Recreation Center.

The Hilo Municipal Golf Course remains open with modified rules of play in effect.


Hawaii Island has experienced decreasing COVID-19 cases — four new cases were reported on Friday. The state Department of Health website said the county has a positivity rate of 0.5%, which is half of the state’s positivity rate of 1.0% and one-fifth of Maui’s 2.5% positivity rate.

Email John Burnett at

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