It seems like ages, but live music will be slowly returning to a few of our entertainment venues this month.
On Saturday, May 23, 2020, Mayor Harry Kim issued Emergency Rule No. 6 that reopens places of worship, personal services such as hair salons, and restaurants effective June 1. The COVID-19 emergency rule declared that “medium-risk” operations would be subject to all restrictions and social distancing requirements found within Gov. David Ige’s Eighth Supplementary Emergency Proclamation, as well as state Department of Health and CDC guidelines.
Restaurants can now offer in-dining service in accordance with CDC interim guidelines for restaurants and bars, and National Restaurant Association guidelines. However, dedicated bars and nightclubs and other public gathering venues where social distancing measures are difficult to implement couldn’t open just yet.
Some Honolulu bar owners and musicians took their frustrations to the State Capitol and protested last week. On May 29, the Star-Advertiser reported that over 100 people demonstrated by waving American flags and holding signs with messages that included, “We are educated adults and can make educated decisions. Please allow us to reopen.” Some bars have been closed for 70 days with liquor licenses due at the end of the month, in some cases adding up to $8,500.
“We just want to get back in there and be able to entertain people. We’re willing to follow whatever the guidelines that bars need to have to put on shows. If we need to distance people, separate tables, separate chairs, people want to come back and laugh,” said comedian Jose Dynamite to a KHON-TV reporter.
On the Big Island, Kona’s Gertrude’s Jazz Bar began listing upcoming shows on their Facebook page last week and had a full month’s worth of live events on their website. “Now that the Covid-19 curve has flattened across Hawaii and the case numbers are low, we will be reopening our restaurant starting June 4,” said an announcement on their site. “We will be operating with new State and CDC recommended social distancing, sanitization, and prevention protocols for restaurants in place. There will be two shows with a separate seating most nights.”
Gertrude’s first week of entertainment (June 4-6) offers local acts like guitarist Tomi Isobe, the rock trio Lucky Tongue, and bluesman Larry Dupio is scheduled for the following week. Most hadn’t gigged since March and were more than eager to return to the spotlight. Gertrude’s June web schedule lists five nights of entertainment each week and is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.
Humpy’s Big Island Ale House, another popular venue in Kona, has booked singer Ronnie V. for a show on June 20. A post on their Facebook page stated, “As a special treat we will have local musicians playing solo from 6 p.m. every night… Follow social distancing, groups of 6 per table, or up to 10 if you are part of the same household. We can seat at the bar with 6 ft. spacing. Please wait to be seated so we can sanitize properly and if you are sick stay home for now.” Delighted with the re-opening news, one fan posted, “I am so happy I could dance, and I think I will!”
I reached out to the Blue Dragon Tavern’s co-owner Delphina Dorrance about a re-opening schedule. “We closed down for a while,” Dorrance said, “even-grab-and-go, and so are restarting with new leadership and menus with first grab-and-go at the Dragon and the old HUB PUB (Hawi) in our new food truck the Kohala Caboose, hopefully in the next week or two.” Dorrance mentioned that she will have an announcement regarding scheduling safe-dining and music at both venues by the end of this week.
Featured image: Tim Mossholder