Mayor: ‘New normal is upon us’
Broad reopening set for Monday if Ige approves
On the third consecutive day of no new COVID-19 cases for the state, Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino announced that he’s planning to reopen most county activities, businesses and industries Monday, pending Gov. David Ige’s approval.
If Ige signs off, most county parks, fitness gyms, pools, recreation facilities, clubhouses, dog parks, playgrounds, along with restaurants and other food establishments, could open with modifications as early as Monday.
“The new normal is upon us,” Victorino said.
Pools slated for Monday reopening with modifications are Coach Soichi Sakamoto Pool at the War Memorial Complex, Kihei Aquatic Center, Lahaina Aquatic Center, Upcountry Pool and Cooke Memorial Pool on Molokai.
County restaurants had permission to open June 5 but would be bumped earlier if given the green light by Ige.
Victorino said he’s seeking an earlier opening so businesses can hold soft openings, or trials, with public health measures in place. Many businesses have been shut down for more than two months and opening their doors means making major changes.
“My plan is to help you have a soft opening for most of the restaurants and other businesses so that they can reconfigure their facilities, their shops or their restaurants and figure out what social distancing will mean to them,” Victorino said.
All Maui County activities, businesses and industries allowed to reopen would have to comply with the county’s public health emergency Rule 5, which includes 6 feet of social distancing and face mask mandates, according to county officials.
“Social distancing is going to be paramount,” Victorino said. “We’re not just going to open up without all that being in compliance.”
Also, businesses will need to follow modifications required by any state and/or county administrative rules. For example, restaurants will follow the county’s social distancing guidelines and will also adhere to state Department of Health sanitization rules, he added.
Not all businesses will be reopening. Those to remain closed include bars, nightclubs, theaters, public gathering venues and banquet halls until “we have more definitive guidelines from the (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and the state Department of Health,” Victorino said.
Other restrictions remain in place. Gatherings are limited to no more than 10 people, including community events or large gatherings, and organized or contact sports, commercial activities, camping or use of grills are not allowed at inland parks.
Although most county inland and beach parks may be open by Monday, repair and maintenance work is keeping some temporarily closed, county officials said. Victorino said Kanaha Beach Park likely will open June 5 after cleanup is completed. Also, Waiale Park will remain closed to accommodate temporary emergency shelters.
County facilities that will remain closed, some for renovations, include community centers, county gyms and the Spencer Shiraishi Memorial Pool in Kahului, Wailuku Pool at Wells Park and Kokua Pool in Kahului.
Victorino’s announcement came as the state saw three consecutive days and the seventh day in a month with no new COVID-19 cases. Maui County has had only five new cases in the last 30 days, according to county Managing Director Sandy Baz.
Hawaii leads the nation in lowest percentage of positive test results with a seven-day moving average of 0.04 percent, Baz said, citing the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
He applauded health care and community efforts, along with the state’s “rapid response,” which included some of the nation’s strictest rules and enforcement, for the low Hawaii COVID-19 numbers.
“This is due to the collective efforts of our health care workers, our first responders, our businesses, and you, the general public,” Baz said during the news conference. “This is also thanks to Hawaii’s rapid response, which includes some of nation’s strictest rules and enforcement. There was a time when we were the most strict or right at the top there.”
He said the county and state have been starting to ease restrictions. The county announced May 1 the first round of beach and inland park reopenings, along with golf courses. Other openings this month have included shopping centers May 11; drive-in religious services Friday; hair and nail salons Monday; and in-person religious services beginning this Friday.
The county’s latest round of proposed rules and reopening dates have been sent to the governor and attorney general’s office for review and approval, according to a Tuesday night news release.
In other developments, a fresh produce distribution is set for today on Lanai for families impacted by COVID-19. Produce distribution for the general public will take place from 2 to 3 p.m., or until supplies run out, in the county parking lot located between the county gym and school cafeteria.
Bags will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis. To maximize social distancing, produce distribution will be done in a grab-and-go drive-thru (no walk up). Motorists will have the option of getting bags placed in their trunk or rear cargo area. Recipients are asked to wear face masks.
* Kehaulani Cerizo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.