Maui Mayor Recommending Reduction in Gatherings and No Tents or Umbrellas at Beaches
By Wendy Osher
Maui Mayor Michael Victorino will be making several recommendations amid a record triple-digit single day increase today in new COVID-19 cases. While state officials said today’s increase was anticipated, the governor said he would be working with the mayors to reinstate some of the measures that were relaxed in recent weeks.
Mayor Victorino’s recommendations for Maui County include:
- Reducing the limit on outdoor gatherings from 100 to 25
- Reducing the limit on indoor gatherings from 50 to 10
- Banning structures at beach parks, including tents and umbrellas.
According to Mayor Victorino, DLNR Chair Susan Case is working with corporation counsel to issue rules related to gatherings.
Mayor Victorino said structures like tents and umbrellas lead to congregating and gathering. “They seem to congregate around that–just like grilling. When we stopped grilling and did not allow people to grill in our parks, it seemed to reduce gatherings,” said Mayor Victorino in an afternoon press conference on Wednesday.
The Mayor said he’s particularly looking and medium and high risk areas. “These are social get togethers that we are looking to reduce the numbers–not for businesses. Even church, we’re not reducing that at this time. For faith based, we still believe you have enough opportunity to keep social distancing,” he said.
The Mayor’s recommendations are slightly different from what Governor David Ige is considering. The governor today said he is looking to limit social gatherings to no more than 10, revisit the idea of closing bars, and limit social gatherings at parks and beaches.
As for bars in Maui County, Mayor Victorino said it’s not something he’s looking at immediately.
“At this time… where our numbers are very low in that area, (I) may not be so supportive of that, but I will remain open to any suggestions. And if those suggestions can be factually proven to me, I would consider a closing of our bars, if necessary,” said Mayor Victorino.
The statewide case count for today stands at a total of 109. That includes 98 on O‘ahu, nine on Maui, and two on Kaua‘i. State Health Director Bruce Anderson said that at least two of the Maui cases reported today had some travel history, but most cases involved exposure at the community level in several different locations.
“We have potential of unclear origins and potentially dozens of contacts with these cases that have been reported,” said Mayor Victorino.
More than 200 COVID-19 tests were administered today during a drive-through event at Keōpūolani Park in Central Maui. Mayor Victorino said, “Many of them, according to the staff that was there, many of them were the same faces they saw on Facebook at that drum ring celebration.”
County representatives say the Mayor was referring to the “Little Beach” drum circle in Mākena, however similar drum circle gatherings are also held in other locations on the island including Pāʻia.
“I’m glad to hear those people have heeded the word in getting tested, but it also tells me that we need to clamp down,” said Mayor Victorino.
Mayor Victorino said his request for the governor to reinstate a 14-day quarantine on interisland travel is still being considered and no determination has been made. He noted that the Big Island continues to see low infection and Big Island Mayor Harry Kim was not inclined to support a reversal at this time, but would consider it if things change.
Also during today’s briefing, Mayor Victorino noted that the Central Maui Regional Sports Complex will be reopening this Friday as long as there’s no pull back on restrictions related to competitive sports.
“We’ve gotten a little lackadaisic and maybe implementation of harsher rules may be necessitated. But I’m hoping that common sense and good judgement will start falling into place,” said Mayor Victorino.