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At least 40 citations issued for violations of new rules

Most infractions occur at South Maui beaches

Police have issued at least 40 citations for violating emergency stay-at-home rules, with many of the violations occurring at beaches in the Kihei area, police said Tuesday.

“You cannot sit on the beach. You cannot hang out on the beach. You can’t sunbathe,” said Maui police spokeswoman Lt. Audra Sellers. “It’s there for essential activity only.”

Under the public health emergency rules issued by Mayor Michael Victorino, county beach parks are closed and beaches are open only for essential activities, including fishing, swimming, surfing and stand-up paddling alone or with immediate household members. Exercise, such as running and walking, is allowed.

“We are facing difficult times but I want to encourage the public to think about how we can help each other, rather than how to bend the rules,” the mayor said Monday night, clarifying the rules on the beach. “We all need to work together to flatten the curve of COVID-19 and protect our community.”

As of 6 a.m. Monday, more than 30 citations had been issued to people violating the order, Sellers said. By Monday afternoon, the number had increased to 40, she said.

The citations were issued to both residents and tourists in various police districts, including on Molokai, Sellers said.

She said one person was cited while reading. “That’s a sedentary event that you could do at home and protect yourself,” Sellers said.

Those cited were given a date to appear in court. A violation carries a penalty of up to one year in jail and up to a $5,000 fine.

Officers began issuing the citations after an education campaign including public service announcements. That was followed by warnings and reprimands to people observed violating the rules, Sellers said.

“The stay-at-home order is out to help flatten the curve,” she said. “We don’t want people out in public.

“As a general rule, people want to comply. It’s just there are some that don’t. Unfortunately, we have to issue citations because educating them and warning them didn’t work.”

She noted that the rules were put in place to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“This is unprecedented times,” Sellers said. “This is to protect the community, the officers, our families and our island. We all got to do our part.”

* Lila Fujimoto can be reached at lfujimoto@mauinews.com.

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