Local Covid-19 Update as of August 27, 2021
Due to a surge of COVID-19 cases across the Big Island (averaging over 100 new cases per day), new restrictions on gatherings were put in place, effective immediately, as of Friday, August 27, 202.
In a press conference, Mayor Roth issued Emergency Rule No. 17, limiting gatherings indoors and out to 10 people total, including on our county's beaches. When outdoors at County (beach) parks, groups are limited to 10 people total, and must be spaced out 20 feet, or risk a fine of $250. (You can read more about this new emergency rule by going to this West Hawaii Today article HERE.)
No other major changes were issued, meaning that the current travel restrictions have not been changed (you must submit proof of vaccination or have a negative approved Covid test within 72 hours of the last leg of your flight - see this page for a handy guide to all things travel), and masks are still required indoors and under any solid roof (open air or not), and are required in restaurants any time when not actively eating or drinking (previously you could remove your masks once seated).
This Emergency Rule is in effect until October 8, 2021, unless extended.
What does this mean for your wedding?
If your wedding is on a public beach, you will be restricted to 10 people total at your wedding site, including you two, anyone serving your wedding (i.e. your officiant, your photographer, musician, etc.) and guests.
What happens if you'd planned for more people on a public beach?
If you really only wanted a handful of people, this might allow you to be able to cut your guest list without hurting anyone's feelings. If you have guests who were on the bubble or anxious about travel at this time, this allows them to gracefully bow out, and/or volunteer to sit out the ceremony. If everyone already has their tickets and is definitely coming, don't worry! We can get creative. Although they will not be able to stand near you, and may not mingle with the other groupings, anyone over the 10 close to you may attend at a distance of 20 feet, in pods of no more than 10. They may not be able to hear well, but they will still get the beach experience and be able to see you from afar. As a last resort, if you have your wedding with me, you may also postpone and reschedule for up to one year from your original wedding date. Please call me to discuss if this is something you are considering so that you can make the most informed decision.
What about if my wedding is at a private venue?
If your wedding is more than 30 days out, the County is still accepting requests for special exemptions to the gathering rule (i.e. if you have more than 10 people, up to 50 total at a private venue) with the submission of a safety plan, assuming your event is being run by an event professional. (If you are DIYing your event, you will not be eligible for this exemption.) Thus, if you are one of my couples and this applies to you, rest assured, I will be applying for one of these for us and will be in touch about it ASAP.
Finally, as always, if you are one of our couples and you have any questions or concerns, please know we are here to help! Just reach out and we can set a time to talk. As more updates come about, I'll keep you posted here!
On August 10, 2021, Governor Ige announced that due to the rapid community spread of the Delta variant throughout the state (and particularly on this island), gatherings have again been limited to 25 people outside and 10 people indoors. Restaurants and bars are now limited to 50% capacity, and masks are required at all times in these establishments unless actively eating or drinking.
Currently, there are no changes to the Hawaii Pre-Travels program, but things could change at any time.
For travel information, please go to this page for ALL of the most up to date travel updates to the State!
Here's an article from West Hawaii Today that explains these new restrictions: https://www.westhawaiitoday.com/2021/08/11/hawaii-news/ige-cuts-allowable-gathering-sizes-caps-restaurants-bars-gyms-and-churches-at-50/
And here is the official update from the county of Hawaii: https://coronavirus-response-county-of-hawaii-hawaiicountygis.hub.arcgis.com/?fbclid=IwAR35HesRlYXgdvLBuacajR0FV2TrCqgF-WNtE7gpmZOThYx2NxflOKw-dy4
Please note that if you are not vaccinated (and even if you are), you will want to be very careful here in Hawaii. It used to be that only people coming to the islands brought the virus with them, since we were so isolated for such a long time for the first year of the pandemic. Now with freedom of travel and the introduction of the very contagious Delta variant, it is spreading like crazy through the community. So, even if you are healthy arriving here, you could now pick it up on your trip, and I don't want anything to hamper your happy wedding experience!
However, on the plus side, most things here - including your wedding! - are outdoors, which is the safest place to be. Masks have been consistently required in any indoor setting, as well as anywhere under a roof, and that remains the same.
What does this mean for your Simple Kona Beach Wedding? If you have 20 people total or under, really, nothing will change for your wedding itself, since your wedding is outside. I say 20 or under to include space in the 25 total people allowed for all the people serving your wedding as well (i.e. me, photographer, videographer, musician, etc.). I don't believe they will once again require masks outdoors, but if you have anyone in your group who is at risk, I would highly recommend masks for all non-wedding party guests to keep those guests safe (or encourage those at risk guests to stay at home), and to strongly encourage anyone not feeling well to not attend.
If you have more than 20 people scheduled to attend your wedding, not everyone will be able to gather with you at the ceremony site. This doesn't mean that those folks can't watch you from farther down the beach (that would be okay), but they won't be able to be close in. You now have time to think about who may be most willing to stand a bit farther away (for instance, the "plus ones" or more distant family members (or even those who are not big into the wedding thing, but are there for the party and to be in Hawaii) are perfect volunteers), and it also encourages those who may have been on the fence about being able to come to have a perfect excuse to bow out gracefully. It also allows you to be able to say no to people who are trying to come last minute, or, if it's far enough out, to cut your guest list in the event that this restriction continues past the October 18th expiration date.
If you had an after-party scheduled and you have more than 25 people, please contact the person in charge to find out how that changes your event and what will be required.
In short, the smaller your wedding, the easier and safer it's going to be for all involved.
If you have been on the fence about getting vaccinated, and it's more than a month until your wedding, now is a great time to take the leap. Not only will you be able to skip the pre-travel test (assuming none of the pre-travel requirements change), but you'll also keep yourself safer while traveling and while you are here. If you cannot or do not want to get the vaccine, I urge you to take every precaution before flying so that you can indeed make the trip. I just had a couple who was slated to have their wedding this weekend have to cancel because they both tested positive for Covid during their pre-travel testing. It was devastating to them, and I don't want that to happen to any of my other couples!
If you have a wedding with us, please don't hesitate to reach out if you have any questions at all about any of this, and we'll do our best to guide you. Our goal is for you to have the most wonderful (and safest) wedding ever!