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Changes to gathering limits and dining rules expected to be approved

Rules would take effect Sunday if finalized this week

Mayor Michael Victorino discusses upcoming changes to COVID-19 emergency rules, including gathering sizes, closing hours for bars and rules for unvaccinated customers dining in restaurants. AKAKU image

The Maui News

Mayor Michael Victorino said he expects to receive approval for changes to gathering limits, operating hours for bars and rules for unvaccinated customers dining at restaurants as Maui County continues to average the lowest daily case counts and test positivity rates in the state.

Victorino said during the county’s news conference Tuesday that he received verbal approval for the changes from Gov. David Ige and was expecting official confirmation soon. If approved this week, the rules would take effect at 12:01 a.m. Sunday.

Changes include increasing social gatherings to 10 indoors and 25 outdoors, extending closing hours for bars and restaurants from 10 p.m. to midnight, allowing 10 guests per table instead of five and allowing unvaccinated customers who’ve received a negative COVID-19 test 48 hours prior to dine indoors. Restaurants currently require customers to show proof of vaccination in order to dine in; unvaccinated customers must order takeout, do drive-thru or dine outdoors.

“I want to give credit to all of the businesses and the community and our residents throughout Maui County for making this possible,” Victorino said. “You have all done a fantastic job in bringing down the numbers and I’m very proud of you. I’m beginning to feel more optimistic. I like to say it in this way — I’m feeling a lot like Christmas is around the corner.”

Last week Victorino also said fans would be allowed to attend youth sporting events not sanctioned by the state Department of Education. On Tuesday he said “details will be forthcoming as far as specific numbers” allowed, and that Maui County is following the lead of Honolulu County, which recently loosened a slew of restrictions on bars and restaurants as well as entertainment events.

Victorino pointed out that Tuesday was the first time in months that new COVID-19 cases had fallen to single-digits in Maui County, with two cases on Maui and one on Molokai. Across Hawaii, there were only 49 cases, a marked difference from early August when the delta variant spurred case counts above 1,000 a day statewide.

Maui County is averaging 14 new cases a day and a test positivity rate of 2 percent, both the lowest in the state. Honolulu County is averaging 101 new cases a day and a test positivity rate of 2.8 percent, while Hawaii County is seeing 33 new cases and a 4.5 percent test positivity rate and Kauai County is tallying 14 new cases and a 3.2 percent test positivity rate.

“You have done it, the people of Maui County have worked very hard to get to this point,” Victorino said. “So I want to thank each and every one of you for your participation, your diligence, and more importantly, your helping us get to this point. Are we out of the woods? Absolutely not. But we’re getting closer.”

The mayor also said that Halloween trick-or-treating can proceed, though he asked that people stay in household pods.

However, he also encouraged drive-thru events and said that the county will hold a free “Halloween Drive-thru Adventure” at Keopuolani Park from 4:30 to 7 p.m. Oct. 31. Admission is free.

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