Scenes of unmasked tourists in large groups stir anger on Maui

Updated: Feb. 23, 2021 at 1:41 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - A spike of COVID cases on Maui is prompting concern and leaving some residents shaking their heads at recent scenes of visitors gathering in unmasked groups.

According to the Hawaii Tourism Authority, 9,503 people traveled to Maui in the last three days — nearly 2,000 more than those who arrived on Oahu.

Experts have said that travel testing and quarantines mean tourists are less likely to spread COVID than residents, but scenes of packed and unmasked visitors are still alarming Maui residents.

Kris Miyake said he was at Whalers Village on Saturday when he took video of an area packed with people. He said there seems to be a double standard for visitors.

“I think we need some consistency and communication from our government officials,” he said.

“As the local residents, we’re still on a lot of lockdown type of protocols, then what you’re saying to us is that the people that are coming in, tourists are more important to you than we are.”

Miyake’s daughter, Trinity, said the situation was worrisome.

“It was a moment of realization like, ‘wow, they have this luxury and they can have these luaus and gatherings,’” she said. “And us as residents of Maui and students in high school who live here, we can’t have a luau, or a prom or a graduation, something that’s just once in a lifetime.”

Miyake posted the video that he took of the big crowd with some people not wearing masks on social media. The post reached thousands of people, including Maui Councilwoman Yuki Lei Sugimura.

She said the police should have been called on the group.

“I don’t know why people were there, but he’s absolutely right, they shouldn’t be doing that,” she said.

Mayor Mike Victorino is also aware of the video.

“It is not something that we tolerate and we’re going to take appropriate action if it means closing down a business for 24 hours for violation of rules, we can do that,” said Victorino.

Victorino said Whalers Village has been given a warning that another incident of a large gathering could lead to a 24-hour shutdown.

However, Whalers Village denied that it had been given a warning or that the large gathering was on their property.

“The safety and well-being of our guests, tenants and employees is paramount,” the center said, in a statement. “Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, our top priority has been to maintain a safe environment for our community which includes following orders from local and state officials as it pertains to our operations.”

Victorino encouraged people to report violations to Maui Police at 244-6400.

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