Maui tries to close travel quarantine loophole

Summer youth program extended to Aug. 14

To stop visitors from taking advantage of a quarantine loophole, Maui County has clarified its public emergency rules for new “intended” residents to the island.

Now, those who intend to relocate to Maui must use a long-term rental for their mandatory 14-day quarantine. The long-term rental unit can only be used once as a quarantine location in a six-month period, said Maui County Managing Director Sandy Baz at a county news conference Friday afternoon.

In response to a question from The Maui News, Baz acknowledged that the rules were changed in response to the loophole identified by Kauai officials. They said that out-of-state visitors indicate that they intend to move to the island to avoid being quarantined at hotels. Instead, they stay at a short-term rental on a six-month lease that is allowed to be broken early.

On Thursday, there were 11 travelers to Maui who said they were intending to relocate to the island.

“Yes, the rules were modified to address that situation. It is a statewide issue, Kauai was the first one to address it with the rule change, and we modified our rules kind of based on their format,” Baz said at the briefing. “It’s making sure people are following the governor’s proclamation and not skirt the process itself.”

Baz added that the governor wants people to quarantine in a hotel for the “security and oversight purpose” rather than in a short-term rental in a residential neighborhood.

Property owners will be held responsible and documentation shall be provided to the county if a violation is suspected, Baz said. The maximum penalty is a $5,000 fine.

Also Friday, the county announced the extension of its Summer Youth Program, conducted in partnership with Maui Family YMCA. Because the start date for public school students has been pushed back to Aug. 17, the county will continue the program, which is supported by federal CARES Act funding, until Aug. 14.

The cost remains $10 per week, per family.

Registration is now open for the extension, which begins Monday. Register at MauiYMCA.org/day-camps/ or in person at the YMCA Kahului office, said Maui Family YMCA Director of Youth Programs Brian Kawamoto.

So far the program has accommodated around 400 children and has the ability to increase capacity and sites, he said. Sites are open at War Memorial Gym in Wailuku, South Maui Community Park Gym and Eddie Tam Gym in Makawao.

The YMCA continues to follow sanitation procedures and physical distancing rules and conducts temperature checks in compliance with state Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.

For more information, see MauiYMCA.org or call 242-9007.

In other COVID-19-related developments, about 180 people were tested Friday for COVID-19 during a drive-thru testing event at the Lahaina Aquatic Center. Of that total, 155 were PCR tests for active infections and 22 were COVID-19 antibody tests.

The Keopuolani Regional Park drive-thru testing drew about 230 people. Victorino said that residents do not need to wait for drive-thru testing events; they can call their doctor to get tested.

The mayor reminded that his order reducing indoor and outdoor gatherings to no more than 10 people took effect Friday. The rule change does not apply to essential or designated businesses and operations, which have supervision, monitoring and other enforcement protocols.

On the heels of the state seeing another day of triple-digit new cases, Victorino urged residents to take COVID-19 safety precautions. There were 123 new cases, including four on Maui and 119 on Oahu.

The mayor also asked for tougher enforcement on those who break the emergency COVID-19 rules, including those participating in large gatherings outdoors and are not wearing face coverings.

“I don’t think education is necessary anymore, they will be cited or arrested,” Victorino said of violators. “Sorry, I’m tired of being nice to everybody, ‘saying please,’ and not seeing any results.”

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


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