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Mayor limiting social gatherings to 10 people

Victorino

With the state logging another new single-day record of COVID-19 cases, Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino on Thursday afternoon announced that he will reduce the allowable number of people at indoor and outdoor social gatherings to no more than 10 beginning today.

The updated Public Health Emergency Rules were signed by Victorino and sent to Gov. David Ige for approval. On Wednesday, Ige called for limiting social gatherings in light of the record-setting new cases in recent days.

On Thursday, the state saw a high of 124 newly reported cases, with 120 on Oahu and four on Maui. On Wednesday, the state saw 109 cases, with 98 on Oahu, nine on Maui and two on Kauai.

Maui County’s total is now up to 167, including two on Molokai and none on Lanai, and six deaths.

“We’ve had 42 cases this month, compared to just four in May and three in June,” Victorino said Thursday, referencing rising Maui COVID-19 cases. “This rise in cases statewide continues to concern me, and there have been many reports of large parties, drum circles and other gatherings, which could jeopardize the safety of our keiki and kupuna.

“I believe this rule change is necessary to help protect our community from future spikes and outbreaks.”

Initially, gatherings were limited to 10 people but on June 15 the county permitted 100 people at outdoor and 50 at indoor gatherings.

The four Maui cases reported Thursday were associated with known cases and one of the cases was travel related, said Dr. Sarah Park, state Department of Health epidemiologist. Those people infected with the virus also did not take proper precautions, she added.

“The Maui uptick in cases is associated with persons who have engaged in beach activities, barbecues and Sunday parties without masking and without distancing, and at least one person who attended some of these activities while ill,” she said Thursday.

As the county imposes restrictions on social gatherings, businesses and places of worship still will be allowed to function under existing county and state rules. Restaurants, bars, beauty salons and other businesses must continue to follow health and safety guidelines outlined in the emergency rules, according to a county news release.

County parks will remain open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. But the use of large structures that may attract gatherings, such as tents and pavilions, will be prohibited.

“It pains me to make these decisions, but we need to take steps to discourage large gatherings,” Victorino said. “I want to thank all the businesses and residents who continue to heed our advice by maintaining physical distance from others and wearing face coverings whenever you leave your home.”

A request from Victorino to Ige to reinstate the mandatory 14-day quarantine for interisland travelers is still pending, a county spokesman said Thursday.

For more information and updates on COVID-19 in Maui County, visit MauiCounty.gov.

* Melissa Tanji can be reached at mtanji@mauinews.com.

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