Some Maui residents caught off guard with vaccine-or-test mandate at state libraries

Published: Sep. 14, 2021 at 6:55 PM HST|Updated: Sep. 14, 2021 at 7:18 PM HST
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WAILUKU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A library card is no longer enough when heading to a public library in Hawaii.

“I had to present my vaccination card and my ID before entering,” said Kahului resident Nina Giordano.

Gov. David Ige’s mandate requiring all visitors entering state facilities to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test includes all public libraries across the state.

At the Wailuku Public Library, signs are posted and workers are stationed at the front entrance making sure anyone 12 years old and older either has a verified vaccination card or a negative COVID test issued in the last 72 hours.

Some people were turned away.

“I was unaware. I try to keep abreast of what’s happening. I knew that restaurants and theaters were going to be requiring the vaccine passport. But I had no idea that we would no longer be allowed inside a public library,” said Haiku resident Heather Wright.

It even caught the vaccinated off guard.

“I didn’t know. It’s a good thing I had my card with me,” said Kahului resident Lisa Shimabuku.

“I was surprised to see the new rule. I believe it’s very important for us to be vaccinated because the numbers in Hawaii seem to be rising quite steadily right now,” said Waikapu resident Barbara Baehr.

Maui’s vaccination rate is slowly climbing, but still the lowest in the state. It’s now at 58%.

“That’s pretty much half the population that will no longer have access to the public library,” Wright said, who lives in Haiku where the vaccination rate is the lowest in the county at around 35%.

Other areas like Kihei, which had one of the lowest vaccination rates, is now on par with other areas around the island.

Meanwhile, Maui County is starting another vaccine-or-test mandate on Wednesday — similar to Oahu’s — covering restaurants, bars and gyms.

Maui residents are divided over the rules.

“There are families that have valid medical and religious exemptions to this vaccine,” said Wright.

“I do appreciate that we are doing things to try to keep everyone safe,” said Shimabuku.

Similarly, Giordano said, “I think it’s a keeping us safe.”

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