Maui County is getting ready to roll out its “Safer Outside” emergency rules, which would require proof of vaccination for patrons to enter restaurants, bars, and gyms, starting next Wednesday.
The new rules would also require restaurants and bars to close by 10 p.m., among other new restrictions, and no spectators would be allowed at sports events, regardless of whether they are indoors or outdoors.
At a Maui County briefing Tuesday, Mayor Mike Victorino said these new rules were necessary to bring COVID-19 case numbers and hospitalizations down as the highly contagious delta variant continues to circulate in the isle’s community.
“Just wanted to remind everyone this delta variant is extremely dangerous, extremely contagious, and most importantly for those who are not vaccinated very, very life-threatening,” said Victorino. “Hospitalization rates, and you look at what’s happening through the state, throughout the nation, and throughout the world, has gone up tremendously and there’s no slowing it down.”
Some details are still being finalized, said Victorino, but the rules are expected to be approved by Gov. David Ige and go into effect next Wednesday, Sept. 15. They are expected to remain in place for 30 days, and then undergo further evaluation.
The “Safer Outside” emergency rules would implement the following:
>> Limit social gatherings to five people inside, 10 people outside.
>> Patrons of restaurants, bars, and gyms over age 12 must show proof of vaccination to enter. They can show their completed vaccination cards in original, photocopied, or digital form. Unvaccinated patrons of restaurants may dine outdoors or get takeout. Unlike Oahu, a negative COVID test will not be an option for entering restaurants, bars, and gyms.
>> Restaurants, bars, and gyms must operate at 50% capacity. Restaurants and bars must also close by 10 p.m.
>> Commercial boat and ground transportation tours are limited to 50% capacity, down from 75%.
>> No spectators allowed at indoor or outdoor sports events.
Victorino said these rules represent a compromise and were an effort to keep businesses open with the high number of coronavirus case counts instead of a total shutdown.
“These are options, these are methods we believe can level the curve and hopefully start to bring the numbers down,” he said, “and if the numbers don’t come down in the next 30 days we may have to implement stricter rules and stricter mandates.”
He noted that two counties have had new cases in the hundreds-plus range as the daily average.
“And we’re not too far behind, ladies and gentleman,” he said.
He noted, as well, that almost a third of all Maui County cases in the last week and a half have been among children under age 17, including some as young as three and four years old. Also, he said there has been an uptick of deaths, with 77 recorded in Maui County, in addition to the hospital being overwhelmed at times.
“To be honest with you this is a compromise that we came up with” said Victorino. “We mirrored a lot of what Oahu did because they have the same problem and others are doing very similar takes without totally shutting down, in other words, going to stay-at-home orders.”
On Oahu, Honolulu County’s “Safe Access Oahu” program begins next Monday, Sept. 13.