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Maui County reminds residents, visitors of its new booster requirement for some venues

Maui County today reminded residents and visitors that it now requires proof of a booster shot for proof that their COVID-19 vaccinations are “up to date” to dine indoors at high-risk venues such as a restaurant or bar or exercise inside of a gym.

Maui Mayor Michael Victorino had announced his intentions to add the booster requirement for all those eligible in his new set of emergency rules, originally set to go into effect Jan. 8, and postponed to Monday, when they went into effect. Maui patrons also have the option of showing a negative COVID-19 test result 48 priors to entry into the establishment.

Victorino said he moved ahead with the requirement as Maui County hospitals neared capacity, which on Friday included 42 patients with COVID-19, including five in intensive care.

“After speaking with leadership from Maui, Molokai, and Lanai hospitals, it’s evident that our healthcare facilities are at a tipping point,” said Victorino in a news release. “If omicron continues to spread at the current rate, our hospitals will be forced to implement emergency procedures. We can’t send patients to Oahu or other islands, so booster shots, masks and physical distancing are more important than ever in high-risk venues like bars, restaurants and gyms.”

Victorino said recent studies from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show boosters provide the best protection from severe disease and hospitalization caused by the omicron variant.

All Hawaii residents ages 12 and up are eligible for boosters if it has been five months since they completed their initial mRNA vaccine series or two months since they received their Johnson & Johnson shot.

Victorino said during a news conference Friday he would leave it up to businesses to enforce the booster requirements, including whether teens should be included. Fewer teens may qualify if it has not yet been five months since they completed their initial Pfizer shots.

“I ask everyone to please get boosted and if you haven’t gotten vaccinated get vaccinated,” he said. “For those who don’t want to or don’t feel it’s important, I’m sorry, this is not the time to think about yourself but think about those who are vulnerable which are our elderly, our keiki who can spread it and — maybe not so sick — but could have challenges and maybe long-term effects, and the rest of community.”

As of Tuesday, 67% of Maui County residents had completed their initial vaccine series, with 31% of the county population boosted.

For a list of vaccination sites offering boosters on Maui County, visit mauinuistrong.info/vaccination-locations.

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