Maui puts new restrictions on gatherings, eateries amid recent uptick in COVID-19 cases

Published: Jan. 1, 2021 at 1:24 AM HST|Updated: Jan. 1, 2021 at 1:31 AM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Maui County is tightening restrictions on gatherings and restaurants in a bid to rein in a recent spike in new COVID-19 infections.

The new rules go into effect this weekend.

Starting Saturday, gathering size limits will be reduced to five people, down from 10.

Bars will have to close by 10 p.m. and occupancy at bars and restaurants will be limited to no more than 30%. Bars had previously been allowed to operate at 50% occupancy.

While residents are concerned about the uptick in cases, some say the restrictions should be focused on visitors instead.

Elena Schweitzer said it feels like tourists are getting special treatment. She said Kapalua Bay was packed with visitors not practicing social distancing or wearing masks over the weekend.

“I came up to the bay and I looked and I saw the most insane amount of people,” said Schweitzer.

Her husband, Matty, said it looked like pre-pandemic days and believes it is unfair that can happen but local businesses can’t open at full capacity and some children can’t go back to school.

“It’s like a personal stab to the community from the government,” Matty Schweitzer said.

County officials say Maui police have been notified and will be monitoring for enforcement.

“The police have and DLNR have been informed and they’re out there right as we speak now checking on these particular gatherings,” said Maui County Mayor Mike Victorino.

The state’s latest cluster report shows three cases tied to the tourism industry in Maui County, nine other cases were traced to social gatherings, and there are also clusters linked to bars and places of worship.

Hawaii health officials say the public must remain vigilant.

“This is the time to be even more attentive to wearing masks and distancing and avoiding large gatherings,” said Dr. Janet Berreman, district public health officer for Kauai.

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