Victorino wants to open travel within Maui County’s islands, but some disagree

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Updated: Oct. 9, 2020 at 5:53 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Maui County’s mayor wants his residents to be allowed to travel to and from the county’s three islands ― and not be required to take a test or quarantine.

“In every other county you can get in your car and go," said Mayor Mike Victorino.

“But we cannot drive to Kaunakakai. We cannot drive to Lanai City. So I want our residents to have the assurances that they can travel within their county and not have to be quarantined."

Victorino said he is still waiting to hear back from the governor on that request.

But not everyone is on board with free travel within the county.

Throughout the pandemic, Lanai has managed to remain coronavirus-free.

With active cases both on Molokai and Maui, some Lanaians fear by allowing travel between the three islands the virus could be introduced.

“Why push it?” said Lanai resident John Ornellas.

Other residents, though, are itching to open.

“We’ve been feeling like Lanai has turned into Alcatraz. We really need to get off the rock a little bit,” said Lanai resident David Green.

Lanai’s population is just over 3,000. Residents say the small town comes with advantages and disadvantages.

“We don’t have a Costco, we don’t have a Lowe’s, we don’t have a Home Depot,” Green said.

The inter-island travel quarantine was reinstated in August.

The Greens say they have missed out on many things for months.

“What are the odds if I go over to Maui that I am going to contract COVID if I do my mask and my social distancing, wash my hands?” said Caron Green.

Ornellas, however, argues it’s not worth the risk and Lanaians have worked hard to remain COVID-free.

“When I sit at the table at Blue Ginger and somebody comes in that I’m not sure of, I’ll go. I’ll leave because I can’t afford to catch the virus,” Ornellas said.

Ornellas said the island has limited resources not just with stores, but with healthcare as well. There are no stop lights, no mailboxes ― and no ventilators.

Ornellas said there is no choice but to remain virus free. “I think Lanai should stay shut until the end of the month and then reevaluate at the end of the month,” he said.

Victorino is also joining other counties asking for trans-Pacific travelers to voluntarily take a second test after they arrive in Maui County.

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