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Ige OKs extension of Hana roadblock

Access to East Maui to remain limited to residents until July 15

Gov. David Ige has given his verbal OK to keep the Hana Highway checkpoint near Twin Falls in place until July 15 and continue to limit travel to East Maui mainly to residents, Maui County Managing Director Sandy Baz said Wednesday.

Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino has said that if Ige agreed to keep the checkpoint up in Haiku on the state highway, then he would keep the checkpoint up at Ulupalakua Ranch on the county’s Piilani Highway. The checkpoints have restricted vehicle access to East Maui residents, deliveries and emergency vehicles.

Ige made the call to limit travel to East Maui on March 16, which initially was voluntary and not enforced except by some East Maui residents. Checkpoints went up a few weeks later and have been manned by National Guardsmen and Maui police. Police said their involvement in the roadblocks ended at the end of May.

The state Department of Transportation said last week that it would be reopening the road to general traffic Wednesday. In a letter to the governor Monday, Victorino asked for a delay until July 15 to provide time to establish a plan to protect the remote community from COVID-19.

The checkpoints remained in place Wednesday while awaiting a response from the governor, Baz said Tuesday.

At a Zoom meeting Sunday, East Maui residents expressed concern about exposure to the virus in a community with limited health resources.

On Wednesday, the state COVID-19 Joint Information Center reported two new Maui County cases. Baz said both cases were travel related, adult residents returning from the Mainland.

“One family, household started observing symptoms when they were quarantining and got tested,” Baz said at the county daily news conference Wednesday.

Both did not require hospitalizations and were in quarantine, county officials said.

Those cases brought Maui County’s positive COVID cases to 125 with two cases on Molokai and none on Lanai.

There were nine new cases reported in Hawaii on Wednesday — seven on Oahu and the two on Maui, the Joint Information Center reported. There was one pediatric case among the nine, and four Oahu cases were linked to a new cluster at an urgent care facility, though none of those infected were involved in patient care.

Oahu’s total is now 659; Hawaii island’s, 87; and Kauai’s, 38. Seventeen residents have been diagnosed outside of the state.

There have been 18 deaths — six on Maui and 12 on Oahu.

In other news as the county eases COVID-19 restrictions, the county Department of Parks and Recreation announced Wednesday that pool permit holders can reinstate their permits for swimming activities starting Monday. Modified pool hours are 7 to 8 a.m. and 5 to 7 p.m. Permit holders will need to submit proof of insurance, master list of participants and other documents and information.

Most county pools have reopened to lap swimming but reservations are required by calling 270-6116. Wednesday also was the first day organized sports teams could play competitive games. Sports eligible to play include baseball, soccer, outdoor volleyball and outdoor basketball, but not football and rugby and other sports which involve sustained close contact.

Teams are limited to a maximum of 30 participants, including players and coaches, and cannot huddle or give high-fives and handshakes. Spectators must maintain 6 feet of physical distancing between members of different households.

Face masks should be worn unless engaged in active play and socializing should be limited before and after games.

The Department of Parks and Recreation also announced launching a Virtual Recreation Programs and Activities webpage at www.mauicounty.gov/2389/Virtual-Recreation-Programs-Activities. The website includes videos on basic stretching and speed and quickness agility, soccer and basketball drills.

There also are videos on making leaf prints, ti leaf lei and paper stars and how to play Portuguese horseshoes.

* Lee Imada can be reached at leeimada@mauinews.com.

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