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South Maui beach patrols net MPD emergency rule citations

Mayor warns rules will tighten if beachgoers continue to ignore them

Brothers Reggie Wade, 16, and Khalif Wade, 11, of California’s Bay Area, play paddleball as Maui Police Dept. officers Carlos Frate (from left), Antal Kapas and Brendan Fujii begin a patrol of Po‘olenalena Beach recently in Makena. The officers issued three citations at the beach to people who were sunbathing and not engaged in activities which are permitted during Maui County’s COVID-19 stay-at-home order. The Wade boys said the COVID-19 global pandemic felt “weird.” “It feels like dark times,” Khalif said. “It’s weird because, besides weekends, there’s nobody at the beach,” Reggie said. “Our flight’s been canceled a couple times, but we’re supposed to go home Thursday.” The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photos

KIHEI — Police issued three citations Saturday at a single beach in South Maui for violation of public health emergency rules. After issuing the citations, four officers on ATVs moved on to patrol other beaches in search of violators.

The citations at Po’olenalena Beach on Saturday come in the wake of a word of caution by Mayor Michael Victorino, who said this weekend is the “final warning” and that if people do not follow the “stay at home, work from home” orders, measures will tighten this week.

“If you are going to continue to go to beaches and congregate, if you are going to congregate at the stores, we are going to implement as of Tuesday more harsher rules,” he said Friday afternoon during a news conference.

“I don’t want to get stricter, but if I continue to see these high numbers and people not really adhering to social distancing . . . I may have to start,” Victorino added.

Maui Police Department officers were patrolling beaches along the South Maui coastline Saturday and said they planned to move later to North Kihei in response to reports of violations. One sergeant said they had been working 13-hour shifts.

Maui Police Dept. officer Antal Kapas patrols Po‘olenalena Beach on Saturday afternoon.

Public health emergency rules effective March 25 mandate that residents stay at home and work from home and require that nonessential businesses close. County inland and beach parks, gyms, community centers and other government facilities have been closed.

Beaches and the ocean are reserved only for exercise; no sedentary activities are allowed.

Individuals are advised to go out in public alone and only for essential activities. Also, state and local officials recently issued calls to wear face masks when going out in public.

The Maui Police Department said nine citations were issued Friday in the Lahaina District for violating public health emergency rules, bringing the total to 62 since March 28. There also has been one arrest.

Saturday totals were not immediately available.

Maui Police Sgt. Mike Crowe discusses Maui County’s Public Health Emergency Rules regarding beach activities with Kihei resident Bill Watts Saturday afternoon in Makena.

* Kehaulani Cerizo can be reached at kcerizo@mauinews.com.

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