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Most businesses, activities get green light to reopen Monday

Some may choose to wait, though

Calling it the largest and last big change for Maui County’s reopening, Mayor Michael Victorino confirmed Wednesday afternoon that most local businesses and facilities got the green light from the state to open doors as early as Monday.

Most county parks, fitness gyms, pools, recreation facilities, clubhouses, dog parks, playgrounds, restaurants and other food establishment may open with modifications as of 12:01 a.m. Monday.

Any reopenings must comply with the county’s public health emergency rules, which include 6 feet of social distancing and face mask mandates, according to county officials, along with other applicable state and county administrative measures.

The announcement comes on the heels of recent reopenings that include hair and nail salons and drive-in religious services. (In-person religious services may begin Friday.)

Victorino said during his daily news conference Wednesday that this “largest and probably the last big change” is intended to give businesses time to hold soft openings, or trial periods, and to reconfigure space for social distancing.

Some businesses, such as Maui Ocean Center, may need a bit more time before resuming operations, though.

“We are very excited that the governor and the mayor have agreed that we can reopen,” said center spokeswoman Toni Rojas. “We will ensure we meet and exceed all safety and health guidelines.”

Rojas said the center will not be able to open Monday and added that Maui Ocean Center looks forward to making a more formal announcement on reopening soon.

The state said Wednesday that sea life and ocean parks may reopen. County officials confirmed that Maui Ocean Center may reopen, so long as it follows the public health rules.

Victorino during the news conference said Maui Ocean Center is not just a draw for visitors but a popular and educational attraction for residents. He said he has taken his children and grandchildren to the center “on many occasions to enjoy the natural sea life,” including sea urchins, turtle hatchlings and other creatures.

“Even though people consider that a visitor attraction, many residents have benefitted,” Victorino said.

Not all businesses and facilities will be reopening, though. Those to remain closed include bars, nightclubs, theaters, public gathering venues and banquet halls.

Other county restrictions on certain activities 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 and use of grills are not allowed at inland parks.

Although most county inland and beach parks will reopen 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.

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 coming Friday.

Wednesday’s more broad announcement came as Maui County again had no new COVID-19 cases, and numbers have remained consistently low throughout the state for weeks.

One new case for Hawaii, on the Big Island, was reported Wednesday by state health officials, which broke a three-day streak of zero cases for the state.

The new case brought Hawaii island’s total to 82.

Maui County remained at 118, Honolulu County stayed at 414 and Kauai County remained at 20.

Hawaii has had 644 COVID-19 cases since tracking began Feb. 28. Of those, 600 have been released from isolation and 17 people have died.

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

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