Vacation rentals allowed to reopen

Reservations can be taken now for stays beginning Tuesday for guests who are not under quarantine

Vacation rentals will be allowed to operate starting Tuesday, though they will be limited only to guests who are not subject to the 14-day quarantine, Maui County officials announced Friday.

Managing Director Sandy Baz said during a news conference that condominium units that are zoned hotel or that are on the short-term occupancy list, bed and breakfasts and short-term rental homes “could potentially rent to interisland travelers, residents and guests not subject to the 14-day quarantine, such as out-of-state visitors who have completed their quarantine at a hotel.”

Vacation rentals are allowed to take reservations now, but guests cannot begin their stay until Tuesday, Baz added.

Earlier this week, Gov. David Ige signed an emergency proclamation extending the 14-day mandatory quarantine for out-of-state visitors through July 31 and lifting the quarantine for interisland travel starting Tuesday.

Hotels and motels will still be able to continue to house out-of-state visitors who are under quarantine. Baz said these include certain condo-hotels and timeshares that operate similarly to hotels and are able to monitor quarantine requirements, such as having a front desk, housekeeping and other full-time staff. The state is compiling a list of hotels and hotel-like properties that are able to do so.

Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino said that he spoke with Ige, who clarified that other transient vacation rentals will be allowed to operate as well. However, out-of-state visitors under quarantine still need to stay at a hotel or motel.

“We were given the authority or the decision making on how we were to reopen timeshares and vacation rentals,” Victorino said.

Ige’s proclamation also includes criminal liability for hosts of guests who violate quarantine requirements. The county pointed out that owners of vacation rentals also could be subject to enforcement if they rent to people who are under the 14-day quarantine, and if convicted could face jail up to one year and a fine of up to $5,000.

When asked how the county would ensure people staying at vacation rentals were not subject to quarantine, especially given the prevalence of illegal rentals, Baz said that the county Planning Department has been enforcing illegal rentals even before the pandemic and will continue to do so. He encouraged people to report any illegal activities. (The Zoning and Enforcement Division’s number is 270-7253.)

Baz pointed out that “one of the big things is the screening at the airports.” Travelers coming to Hawaii must fill out a form that includes health information and place of lodging. Transportation and tourism officials then confirm with the place of lodging and check in with them during the two-week period to ensure the guests are observing the quarantine. Travelers who do not have a place to stay are asked to fly back home or make a reservation with a hotel.

“They do catch quite a few people who would normally be going to vacation rental homes, but they’re not allowed to,” Baz said. “We do actually send quite a few people back to the Mainland who don’t have a valid reservation, or they’re allowed to make reservations at a hotel at that point.”

In other news Friday:

• Maui County matched a $115,000 donation from the Hawaii Resilience Fund at the Hawaii Community Foundation for COVID-19 efforts. The public-private partnership provides food assistance to recently unemployed individuals and people in need. The funds will be distributed to local nonprofits across the county.

• Victorino said he hopes to have an answer “next week if not sooner” on how swimming practices can be phased back in. Pools opened earlier this week, and some clubs have been asking to resume practices. The county is also discussing how to phase in high contact sports like football and rugby.

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


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