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Retailers, gyms face tighter restrictions

Travelers must also download AlohaSafe app under new rules

Pukalani Superette patrons are greeted with a sign listing protocols on Wednesday. New county rules recently approved by Gov. David Ige limit capacity to 30 percent at big box stores as well as smaller businesses, county officials announced Friday. — The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

Large and small retail establishments will be restricted to 30 percent capacity starting at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, the latest in a series of rule changes aimed at slowing a spike in COVID-19 cases on Maui, county officials announced Friday

The original proposed changes on capacity limits would have required large retailers, like Costco or Target, to reduce capacity to 30 percent, while restricting smaller retailers to 50 percent.

However, Managing Director Sandy Baz said during a news conference Friday afternoon that “the state wanted us to be uniform.”

Retailers with a maximum capacity of 50 or more people must reduce to 30 percent occupancy. While small retailers with maximum capacities of 50 people or fewer are also subject to the 30 percent restriction, their occupancy limit will be determined by taking the total interior square footage of retail space, dividing it by 36 square feet (a 6-foot buffer per person) and multiplying by 30 percent.

Retailers are allowed to round up to whole numbers to meet occupancy requirements.

Each counter at Ceramic Tile Plus is outfitted with a sanitizing station Wednesday. — The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

A building that is 4,000 square feet would have a maximum capacity of 34 people, for example.

Many businesses have already been trying to limit the number of people in their stores, posting signs and floor stickers asking people to keep 6 feet of distance between them and other customers. Pukalani Superette said it has been proactive in meeting emergency rules and monitoring the number of customers entering the 3,000-square-foot store.

“As things started opening up, we decided as a business to keep the max capped at 50 percent for the safety of our employees and customers,” President Megan Nakashima said earlier this week, as businesses were waiting to hear whether the county’s proposed rules would be approved by Gov. David Ige. “We take great pride in maintaining a safe environment.”

After hearing the news, Nakashima said that based on the formula and the store’s square footage, the maximum capacity is around 83 people, which would mean 25 customers allowed in the store under the 30 percent limit.

“We rounded the max down to 50 because we are considering the shelving that takes up floor space,” she said Friday night. “Based on what we believe to be our max, we’re going back down to 15 customers max.”

Customers line up at Costco Wednesday morning. New county rules recently approved by Gov. David Ige limit capacity to 30 percent at big box stores like Costco as well as smaller businesses, county officials announced Friday. — The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

Pukalani Superette is seeing lower sales because customers have to shop “more wisely.”

“We try to keep prices affordable, but we know sometimes our customers are now having to choose between groceries and paying the bills,” she said. “Overall, we can’t complain too much. We’re thankful that we’re still open and that our employees are safe.”

For questions and guidance regarding the new Maui County emergency proclamation, Baz said that businesses can visit mauicounty.gov.

“I agree that it is a little bit encumbersome, but again many of them have capacities that are fairly small in numbers, so just do the best you can with that 30 percent and/or that calculation,” Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino said.

Other amendments to Maui County’s emergency rules that go into effect Tuesday include requiring gyms, yoga studios and similar fitness venues to ensure that all participants wear face masks at all times, whether indoor or outdoor.

Face coverings are required on hiking trails and in parks unless “actively engaged in strenuous outdoor physical activity” while social distancing, according to the county’s emergency rules.

Baz also clarified that face coverings must be worn while walking to and from the beach or pool, and can only be removed once the person is stationary and separated 6 feet away from non-household members.

“This prevents people from interacting as they go to and from the beach or pool without their masks on,” he said.

Additionally, all interisland and trans-Pacific travelers into Maui County are required to download the AlohaSafe Alert contact tracing app, or have the Google app exposure notification from their home state active on their phone, and present it to the screeners at the airport, Baz said.

Exceptions are granted for those under the age of 18 without a mobile device. For adults without a mobile device, at least one person in the travel party must comply.

Also, interisland travelers now need to have their pre-travel COVID-19 test results uploaded before they depart for Maui.

“Failure to register within the exposure notification system prior to arrival into the county will require a mandatory 10-day quarantine,” he said.

Interisland travelers whose negative test results are not available at the time of arrival must quarantine at their place of lodging for 10 days or the duration of their stay, whichever is shorter. Persons subject to quarantine who require paid or commercial lodging must quarantine at an approved hotel or motel. A short-term rental, bed and breakfast homes or other types of transient vacation rentals are not considered designated places to quarantine, Baz said. A list of approved places of lodging can be found at www.mauicounty.gov/2370/COVID-19-Coronavirus-Information.

If COVID-19 cases continue to rise through the beginning of February, Victorino said that rules may get tighter, and a “safer at home” order may be enacted.

“That is always a possibility if we don’t level off and see a decline,” he said. “As I said from the beginning, we were looking at these numbers staying steady until around the end of January, once the party season has passed, and the contacts on contacts have gone.”

The county also announced that free drive-thru testing will be available for Upcountry residents from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday at the Mayor Hannibal Tavares Community Center in Pukalani. To register, visit www.minitmed.com/pre-register-maui-covid-19.

* Dakota Grossman can be reached at dgrossman@mauinews.com.

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