County help on the way for 6,000 out-of-work Mauians

Council passes, mayor signs Laulima aid program

With only Rodeo General Store and a food truck open, Baldwin Avenue in Makawao is quiet on a rainy Wednesday afternoon — the first day of the stay-at-home order by the state and county. — The Maui News / LILA FUJIMOTO photo

Maui County is developing programs to assist the almost 6,000 workers who have been laid off in the county due to the coronavirus pandemic, said Mayor Michael Victorino on Friday.

And he expects “more to come” as more hotels shut down, Victorino said. At least 14 hotels have temporarily shuttered as of Friday.

“We have programs coming,” he said during a news conference, adding that they will supplement unemployment compensation.

On Friday morning, the Maui County Council gave final approval to a bill that would allocate $2 million for the Hawaii Emergency Laulima Partnership, a temporary emergency crisis assistance program.

Victorino signed the bill into law late Friday afternoon after his news conference.

Mayor Michael Victorino

He said the program will help those most economically impacted by the crisis and provide help with “crucial bills,” such as housing, utilities, food, communication and medical.

Maui Economic Opportunity will be implementing the program with assistance from Victorino’s administration. The mayor said he would offer more details Monday.

Victorino said residents and businesses in general have been compliant with his order to close nonessential businesses and halt activities in his edict to stay at home and work from home to help reduce the potential spread of the coronavirus.

Maui police spokeswoman Lt. Audra Sellers said Friday afternoon that police have not issued any citations or made any arrests regarding the emergency declarations. Other counties have reported citations and arrests.

Maui police “have been educating the public on the rules and orders set forth,” Sellers said. “We strive for voluntary compliance, however, if people fail to adhere to the rules and orders we will take progressive action, including warning and reprimands, citations and, as a last resort, arrest.”

Kahekili Beach Park, also known as Airport Beach, was closed Wednesday morning as state and county stay-at-home orders took effect. — The Maui News / DAKOTA GROSSMAN photo

The maximum penalty for conviction of the misdemeanor offense is a $5,000 fine or one year in jail, or both.

In other matters Victorino announced: 

• The county continues to waive all convenience fees for online transactions, especially with county offices closed, and will waive late fees for water and sewer bills until April 30 at the least.

• Maui County has installed a secure drop box for payment of county bills at the front of Kalana O Maui in Wailuku. Only checks will be accepted, not cash.

• Molokai, Lanai and Hana continue to report no confirmed cases of COVID-19. Victorino said there are not many visitors to Molokai and Lanai, and access to Hana has been closed to nonresidents.

• The 24 ventilators that Lt. Gov. Dr. Josh Green said were available on Maui were not an adequate number. Victorino said he was working on getting more and that he expects that could be done when the Army Corps. establishes a backup health care site on Maui.

* Melissa Tanji can be reached at mtanji@mauinews.com.


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