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While some residents support Maui County’s vaccine order for businesses, some say it’s unfair

Published: Sep. 7, 2021 at 8:02 PM HST|Updated: Sep. 7, 2021 at 8:25 PM HST
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MAUI COUNTY (HawaiiNewsNow) - With Maui County to require vaccine cards to be inside of certain establishments, some businesses find the mandate unfair while some residents said it makes them feel safer.

Beginning next week Wednesday, only vaccinated customers will be allowed inside many businesses while the unvaccinated will have to be served outside.

“This is the first step with the numbers we have right now barring total shutdown,” said Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino.

While the details aren’t final, Victorino said on Sept. 15, Maui will move to a “Safer Outside Order” for 30 days.

Among the new rules, gatherings will be limited to five people indoors and 10 people outdoors.

Proof of vaccination will also be required to be indoors at restaurants, bars and gyms.

County officials said they are targeting high risk businesses where clusters have been reported.

Kihei resident, Bill Klapp, supports the mayor’s decision, especially since Maui has the lowest vaccination rate in the state at just 57%.

“If it can help and if it can protect people and protect the kids and protect the older people, I think it’s a very good idea,” Klapp said.

Meanwhile, some restaurant owners believe it’s overreach.

“I’m not here to tell anybody what they should do with their bodies. I’m just here to serve you food,” said Moonstar Greene, owner of Paia Fishmarket and Nuka.

Greene owns five restaurants on Maui and Oahu and said the vaccine requirement will be nearly impossible to police.

“Who has the manpower to check it? There’s not even enough people to work to bring the food to the tables for people. So now I have to find like a Gestapo kind of person who has to check people’s vaccine passes at the door?” Greene said.

Some business owners are even thinking of closing down their restaurants and moving elsewhere with less restrictions.

“I’m not going to be able to tell people they have to get a vaccination. It’s against my morals,” said Christopher Malik Cousins, owner of Wailea Kitchen. “I have an opportunity afforded to me in South Beach Florida. It’s not Maui, but I’ll probably pack up and go try to cook somewhere else or create something where I’ll maybe be appreciated more.”

Despite pushback from critics, Victorino said these rules will make Maui a safer place.

“I’ve had threatening calls saying, ‘You have no right, you’re a dummy.’ They call me every name in the book well, but you know what, I’ve seen an uptick in deaths,” said Victorino. “If you don’t understand what we are trying to do, I’m sorry we are really trying to keep Maui open for you.”

Despite the increase in restrictions, the mayor said unvaccinated patrons can still dine outdoors and order takeout.

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