‘Stay-at-home’ order takes effect today

Residents can only leave home for essential functions

Main Street in Wailuku appears deserted Monday morning, with the nearby state courthouse building closed to all but those with official business. The Maui News / LILA FUJIMOTO photo

Maui County’s “stay home, work from home” order goes into effect today, forcing many businesses to close their doors and families to hunker down inside as the county tries to clamp down on the spread of COVID-19.

Water, trash collection and emergency services will still continue during the order, which lasts until April 30, and people can still exercise and buy groceries, provided they keep a safe distance between them.

“These are uncertain times with changes that are around us almost daily, changing by the hour, sometimes by the minute,” Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino said during a news conference Tuesday afternoon. “I want to ask all of you to please understand that what we do is very central, and the decisions we make, we make with a heavy heart sometimes, because we know the effect and impact to the people of Maui County.”

Deputy Managing Director Josiah Nishita said that the county and state’s emergency proclamations are very similar, allowing for essential businesses and functions to continue.

“Families, you may still walk outside together,” Nishita said. “If you need groceries, use common sense in that and have one person gather and return home. And when they come home, they should disinfect before going back inside.”

Outdoor activities solo or with immediate household members is allowed, including swimming, biking, running, walking and surfing. Golf courses may conduct grounds maintenance, but nobody will be allowed to play. Group sports are prohibited, as well as publicly accessible pools and hot tubs, for example, on hotel or condo properties. County parks, including beach parks, remain closed.

Some exemptions include florists providing services for funerals but no other purposes, as well as takeout and delivery from restaurants and food trucks. Dine-in restaurant service is not allowed. Bars, nightclubs, theaters, public gathering venues and hair and nail salons must be closed.

Residents can leave home for essential activities, including tasks related to health and safety; buying of food, pet food and supplies necessary for staying at home; outdoor exercise; caring for family members in other households; and caring for elderly, minors, dependents, those with disabilities or other vulnerable persons. Those with nonessential businesses can leave home for basic operations, such as maintaining inventory or the grounds, security or payroll/employee benefits.

People cannot leave their homes for nonessential business or personal activities, such as sightseeing, joyriding or social gatherings, or a Realtor showing a property, for example.

The Maui Police Department, which has to enforce the rules, is focused on education and promoting safety, Police Chief Tivoli Faaumu said. Every police vehicle and officer will have copies of the mayor’s emergency health rules and news release. He said the goal is voluntary compliance but that the next actions, if necessary, are warnings, citations and arrest, as a last resort.

Some county departments are seeing more changes than others during the lockdown.

• Parks and Recreation. Beach parks and restrooms are closed, but port-a-potties will be set up “in strategic areas in which we are able to get them serviced,” Director Karla Peters said. Water and showers will still work. A list of open park restrooms and portable toilets is on mauicounty.gov.

• Maui Fire Department. Assistant Chief Michael Werner said that while county beach parks and lifeguard towers are closed, Ocean Safety staff will still be on beaches to provide education and perform rescues in emergency situations.

• Transportation. Public transportation is still operational but is for essential travel only, and riders should social distance where possible. All cash purchases of bus passes must be done on the bus and should be exact fares; drivers won’t carry any change. The Wharf Cinema Center Management Office and Queen Ka’ahumanu Center transit hub greeter are not selling passes until further notice. Buses are being sanitized multiple times a day.

• Housing and Human Concerns. Section 8 rent payments and applications are still being processed, and requests for adjustments are also being done. Kaunoa Senior Services is still doing senior transports and Meals on Wheels, but all leisure and congregate activities are canceled.

The Early Childhood Resource Center is working on a plan to help essential workers in need of child care, and the Volunteer Center is offering opportunities to help at www.handsonmaui.com.

People needing to contact the Immigrant Services Division should call, as in-person appointments are not available.

And, the Homeless Program Division is continuing to support homeless provider agencies and work with agencies statewide.

• Public Works. All three divisions will continue operating, and no services have been curtailed. The department will continue to work on projects and is still accepting building permits and other types of permits. The department also will work with the state on restricting select roads and highways to local traffic only. For questions, call 270-7845.

• Environmental Management. Sewer, refuse and landfill services and recycling programs will continue. Director Eric Nakagawa urged residents not to send flushable wipes down the toilet.

• Water Supply. Power is still being provided so that water service will continue. Treatment plants are operating and wells are running.

• Planning. All functions will continue, though offices are closed to the public. Drop-off and pick-up boxes are installed outside permitting offices, and permit reviews are being given priority. The department is also working with its boards and commissions to see if meetings can resume via videoconference for time-sensitive matters.

• Liquor Control. Certification exams and education sessions canceled until further notice. Renewal applications should be mailed to the department.

Nishita added that dropboxes will soon be available for all payments, including refuse, water, property tax and vehicle registration. Residents can also pay by mail, online or with kiosks; all service fees will be waived. And, all driver’s licenses and state IDs expiring March 23 through May 15 have an additional 90 days from expiration.

Victorino said that whenever the state and county emergency rules don’t match up, the county will follow whichever is stricter.

When asked how many county employees were coming to work and how many are staying home during the order, county spokesman Chris Sugidono said that “all county employees are reporting to work.”

“Departments have made adjustments to schedules and allowed workers to tele-work, where possible, to reduce the amount of personnel in offices,” Sugidono said. “County employees can also use their own accrued vacation, sick and compensatory time off.

He added that the $4 million budget amendment that the mayor requested for COVID-19 will not cover their salaries.

For questions on the stay-at-home order, call the Mayor’s Office Call Center at 270-7855 from 7:45 a.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday and Friday, and from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday, Saturday and Sunday.

* Colleen Uechi can be reached at cuechi@mauinews.com.


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