HONOLULU (KHON2) – As more companies get the green light to reopen, there is an industry where things remain uncertain.
Live events are starting again on the mainland, and those in the Hawaiian industry say they are on the verge of collapse.
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The last show at the Blaisdell Concert Hall was in early February 2020.
Diana Ross, Common Kings and Lauryn Hill were scheduled to play in the concert hall last year but have been canceled due to the pandemic.
The same place where some of the greatest musicians once played has turned into a vaccination site, and a head of state says it’s vaccines that set the schedule for major events to resume.
“We’ve lost 90 to 95% of our business in the last 14 months, so it’s really bad,” said Mark Montgomery of Rhema Services, who provides the sound for many large events.
Those who work behind the scenes said many people have returned to the mainland where concerts and events have resumed.
“It’s scary,” said Rick Bartalini, promoter of Rick Bartalini Presents. “There is no hope. We are on the verge of collapse, and then what happens when the sound people and the lighting people and the promoters collapse? There is no future for events.”
Live event industry leaders said they were unable to discuss a schedule or safety plan with either Governor David Ige or Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi.
“As a promoter, I intend to require vaccines or negative tests, masking, hygiene and any recommended precautions from the CDC,” said Bartalini of the future of events.
Bartalini and Montgomery said that structured live events can be held with COVID-19 security officers, contact tracing and following CDC instructions.
“What I’m afraid of is that the discussion will be postponed and we’ll come by September and [government officials] Like a switch, say, “Okay, you can open it now.” Then we’ll be in February, ”said Eggshell Lighting’s Bob Harman.
The Hawaii concert promoter is calling on Governor Ige to bring back major live events
Industry experts said discussions have to start soon as it takes months to put on a big show and they fear it will be two years too late for the next show to come to Hawaii because staff and professionals are leaving the islands to have.
“We’re not trying to do anything reckless. In fact, we want to be part of the solution, ”explained Harman.
KHON2 asked Lt. Governor Dr. Josh Green, why the industry is still on hold in Hawaii from a medical perspective.
“Well the main reason is that 63% of our population are not yet fully vaccinated,” said Green. “We’re never going to get 100%, but we need to get around 75% to get herd immunity. By the time we get there, an event with three, four, or 5,000 people is very likely going to spread a lot of COVID. “
Green said he thinks Hawaii will see concerts and conventions again in the fall, but big events before July 1 are not a good idea.
“I think people are making a mistake if they open up to big events before July 1st,” he said. “July 1st is a delimiting date that I think we will be much safer.”
“And to allay everyone’s fears, I’ve had some good conversations with people who both support and disapprove of this idea of using vaccines as an exception to attending events,” added Green. “There are still many options and these will be entirely optional. The vaccine should be optional. “
He said using a vaccination card for an event was optional and there were still testing options, including mask standards.
“There are many ways to do this,” said Green. “We should be fair to everyone and do nothing to prevent COVID because we really need to find people’s comfort zones.”