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County relaxed rules start today

Mayor says latest revision may stick around for a while

Mayor Michael Victorino announced that relaxed Maui County mandates on social gatherings and entry to high-risk businesses will go into effect today but indicated that this latest version may stay in place for some time.

Victorino on Friday said that the updated rules will likely remain for six months or more. When asked which metrics guide restrictions, he pointed to several areas, such as test positivity rates, vaccination counts, hospital and medical facility occupancies, along with state government and state Department of Health directives.

“For the near future, I will say, yes, we will continue to have vaccination and all the rules we have in place,” he said during the county news conference.

Maui County’s updated public health emergency measures, recently approved by Gov. David Ige and posted on the county website, modifies social gatherings to now allow 10 people indoors and 25 outdoors.

The new rules also let people with a negative COVID-19 test taken within 48 hours of entry to access bars, gyms and restaurants. The test must be a FDA approved or FDA EUA approved molecular or antigen test.

Oahu and Maui are the only counties in the state that require vaccination or testing for entry to certain businesses.

Maui County restaurants since Sept. 15 have required customers to show proof of vaccination in order to dine in; unvaccinated customers must order takeout, do drive-thru or dine outdoors. Indoor gyms and bars were also mandated to enforce proof of vaccination for entry.

The updated rules extend hours from 10 p.m. to midnight for restaurants and bars, and allow 10 guests per table.

Meanwhile, the mayor on Friday maintained that he supports constitutional freedoms to protest and peacefully assemble. An anti-mandate event called “Mandate Free Maui Unity March and Rally” is slated for 10 a.m. today at War Memorial Stadium parking lot.

“I want to give an opportunity to people to go out and express their constitutional right and to have their voice heard,” he said during the afternoon county news conference. “They need to do what is right to follow the rules and ordinances that are in place.”

Maui County’s changes to its “Safer Outside” program come in the wake of the City and County of Honolulu’s move last week to lessen restrictions on its similar “Safe Access Oahu” plan as the state sees cases decline and vaccinations increase.

Starting in mid-July, the state saw a record high surge in cases driven by the delta variant, which triggered the state and counties to clamp down on public health emergency rules.

Now, Maui County has the lowest test positivity rate in the state — at 1.2 percent over a seven-day rolling average. Oahu is at 2.1 percent; Hawaii island is at 3.8 percent; and Kauai is at 2.3 percent, according to county Deputy Managing Director Josiah Nishita.

Maui Memorial Medical Center had five COVID-19 patients in the hospital Friday, all of whom are unvaccinated. COVID-19 in-patients Friday included two in ICU and one on a ventilator, Nishita said.

* Kehaulani Cerizo can be reached at kcerizo@mauinews.com.

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