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Wedding vendors have a new role: COVID-19 safety enforcer

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    HONOLULU (KITV) — This weekend, weddings on Oahu looked a lot different compared to last year.

When Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi eased COVID-19 restrictions for the commercial wedding industry on Friday, organizers and their clients literally danced for joy.

“When we got the news on the phone, hey, guess what, we can dance, we can have more people. And so technically, we can go up to 100. But for safety reasons, we’re still keeping it down, we feel 50 is comfortable.”

It’s a vast improvement from the original 10 people maximum, says wedding planner Julie Aragaki. She rushed to adjust a Saturday ceremony at the Queen Kapiolani Hotel in Waikiki.

The new rules meant more responsibility for every vendor, from the wait staff to the photographer to the DJ.

“They also have the role of COVID enforcer,” Aragaki said. “So as a coordinator, I’m making sure that everything’s running on time, but then yet, we’re kind of having to keep an eye out to make sure everyone’s has their mask on.”

Venue sizes vary – but guidelines give every pair of dancers 36 square feet.

“What we did was we made sure we blocked off the required feet, because I think it’s like 18 by 18,” Aragaki said. “You can get up to 18 people, so nine couples. So we were able to block up the space so we can monitor visually like, okay, no, no more, and watching the distancing, making sure everybody has their mask on.”

It felt strange, but humor helps.

“I would come around, and I would be like, hey, guys, it’s COVID police again, make sure you do this,” she said. “They’ll see me walking and they’re like, okay, okay. Yeah, we got it.”

“We’re going to implement that into our COVID release form, saying that we’ll give you like two warnings. After that, you know, we have the right to shut everything down, and the event will end,” Aragaki said.

Aragaki believes people will comply.

“They don’t want the event to be shut down, and I think they’re really respectful. I mean, I am hoping we never ever have to deal with somebody that wants to challenge us on it.”

It’s not only weddings — the rules are having a positive effect on Aragaki’s HI Prom 2021 program that offers high school students a safe alternative to prom. Vendors are working with six venues to offer specials April 16-20.

“It’s still restrictive, but at least the kids don’t have to dance at their table, or whatever it is that people were going to implement,” Aragaki said.

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