You may have heard the exciting news already that Hawaii Gov. Ige announced at the end of last month that as of Dec. 1, he would no longer require counties to obtain his approval before issuing county emergency orders, rules, or proclamations. Following that announcement, on Dec. 1, Big Island's Mayor Mitch Roth eased some restrictions on gathering limits and expanded capacity for restaurants and bars.
The relaxed restrictions include, but aren't limited to, an increase in gathering sizes from 10 to 25 for indoor events and from 25 to 100 for outdoor events; full capacity of restaurants, bars, barbershops, gyms, and spas "pending the discretion of the owners and management, as well as other mitigation measures in place."; and an increase in capacity of indoor and outdoor recreational areas. In addition, the new rule no longer requires a 6-foot distance between individuals or groups in restaurants and bars, nor does it prohibit groups larger than ten from assembling at those establishments.
Facemasks are still mandated in indoor gathering settings and are strongly encouraged outdoors in large groups.
Approved COVID-19 mitigation measures will be required for all events or activities with the potential to generate gatherings over the permitted maximum number of persons allowed.
The county will be monitoring the situation and could make changes to the rules if necessary. The rule is dated to expire on Jan. 28, 2022.
Emergency measures that remain unchanged include the Hawaii Safe Travels Program; the indoor mask mandate; vaccination or testing requirements for state executive branch and county employees; and vaccination or testing requirements for contractors and visitors to state facilities.
This new rule is a significant relief for the Island's food and hospitality industry. Tourism is on the rise, and limited capacity at restaurants creates a lot of inconveniences for our guests and locals alike. So, no more 45 minutes wait times to get to your favorite restaurant!
Speaking of restaurants, here are some of my favorites that you can check out while on the Big Island.
1. Kuleana Rum Shack
One of my favorite places to go is Kuleana Rum Shack – a family restaurant, world-class bar, and retail store. It was founded by Kuleana Rum Works, a local company that makes super-premium, high-quality rum from the best ingredients on Earth and without added sweeteners, flavors, or colors right here, on the Big Island of Hawaii.
Visiting Kuleana Rum Shack is truly a great experience! You can enjoy Kuleana Rum in a signature cocktail (they have so many choices!) alongside fresh, local island cuisine inspired by generations of Hawaii's best recipes.
2. Napua Restaurant
Napua is the best-kept secret of Mauna Lani. Once a private club available only for homeowners within the Mauna Lani Resort, Napua is now open to the public for lunch daily, 11 a.m. - 4 p.m., and dinner 5 - 9 p.m. Situated right on the shore at the exclusive Mauna Lani Beach Club, the restaurant offers open-air oceanfront fine dining and Hawaii-inspired cuisine. Every item on the menu is sourced from local farmers, ranchers, and fishermen, keeping the Island spirit.
The setting couldn't be better for a romantic dinner or special occasion: white tablecloths, magnificent sunsets, top-of-the-line service, and occasional live music performances by local talents. Enjoy the tropical paradise at its finest! Visit the website for directions and reservation info.
3. Brown's Beach House
Brown's Beach House Restaurant is located in Fairmont Orchid Hotel at Mauna Lani resort. The Big Island's top AAA Four Diamond restaurant is well-known for its incomparable Hawaii Regional Cuisine and spectacular oceanfront setting. The view is unbelievable, and the menu is fantastic! It is a perfect combination of locally grown produce and a diverse variety of fresh seafood. You can always count on great Ahi and classic entrees like filet mignon and duck breast, prepared with a local tropical twist.
They also offer Sunday brunch, from 7 a.m. until noon, great for the upcoming Mother's Day. In addition, live Hawaiian music is featured nightly.
4. Dom de Luca
Dom de Luca is a new Italian restaurant located in beautiful Waimea and offers in-person dining and take-out. So if you are craving some pizza, pasta, or other Italian fares, that is the place to visit! They make their own pasta, pizza dough, sauces, dressing, and desserts in-house, FRESH. In addition, the restaurant serves local fresh fish, Big Island Beef, greens, veggies, fruits, and ice cream from our esteemed local farmers and vendors and boasts a great beer selection and delicious wines.
A group of 8 friends and I went to Dom de Luca's after an art show at the Kahilu Theatre. The welcoming atmosphere and food were incredible! Harry Wishard is not only an amazing artist, but he is also a great Restauranteur!
Now you can fully enjoy Hawaii's cuisine, aloha bars, spas, yoga studios, and so much more the Island has to offer! If you have your favorite places that are now open and fully operational, please share in the comments below.
For the latest COVID-19 travel-related information, click here.
Some excerpts are taken from West Hawaii Today