Hawaii graduation parties still on hold, restaurants see rise
HONOLULU (KHON2) – Graduation season is underway and many families are finding new ways to celebrate safely with fewer restrictions in place than in 2020.
This is the second year in a row that major graduation parties have been suspended due to COVID-19.
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Restrictions for social gatherings are still in effect.
Ten people can congregate indoors and outdoors on Oahu, ten people can congregate indoors and 25 can congregate outdoors on the island of Hawaii, five can congregate in the indoors and 25 people can gather outdoors in Kauai and ten people can gather indoors and outdoors in Maui.
“We have rule changes that we are asking for, but these have not yet been approved. [by Gov. David Ige]Hawaii County Mayor Mitch Roth said. “So when people are outside, we just ask that it’s better to be outside than inside and be safe. And follow the rules that have always been in place. We want our kids to have fun, but we want them to be safe. “
Before COVID, the Pagoda Hotel would sell its three balrooms each graduation season one year in advance. They have two graduation parties in the books starting Friday May 21.
“Our ballroom right now usually can accommodate 400 people, but because of COVID we have to socially keep them six feet apart,” said Darlene Leones-Akiu, sales manager for catering at Pagoda Hotel. “So at the moment we only have 100 people, we can’t serve a buffet, so we do stations where our staff serve the food, or you can do a set menu.”
She says it’s difficult because people aren’t allowed to dance or mingle between the tables.
“We already have a lot of appeals for next year in the hope, in the hope that we get back to normal,” she added.
Leones-Akiu says they had plenty of bookings earlier in the year for the 2021 graduation season, but uncertainty in levels forced them to cancel.
Many families have meanwhile opted for open-air restaurant reservations.
“We’ve absolutely seen an increase in bookings,” said Michael Miller, operations manager of Tiki’s Bar and Grill in Waikiki.
“We see people who want people to be more intimate, maybe only inviting grandparents or real close family friends,” he explained.
He recommended that groups of four or more book well in advance at all restaurants in the state due to high demand.
“We are getting closer, and as more and more people get vaccinated, there is more hope for bigger changes in the future,” added Mayor Roth. “So we’re hoping that people keep getting vaccinated, because the higher that percentage, the more likely it is that we can start dropping a lot more of our restrictions.”