Boost-or-test mandate brings challenges to Maui businesses

Maui restaurant owners say business has been slower than usual, and it's now harder to find "fully vaccinated" employees that have gotten their booster.
Published: Jan. 25, 2022 at 6:16 PM HST|Updated: Jan. 25, 2022 at 7:03 PM HST
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KIHEI (HawaiiNewsNow) - It’s day two of the boost-or-test mandate in Maui County where less than a third of the population is boosted.

With so few people having the additional shots, it’s having a negative impact on some businesses.

Maui Brewing Company Kihei general manager, Tony Ren, said business has been slower than usual. In addition, he said it has been tough finding eligible employees.

“Our employee vaccination rate as of Sunday was at 82% and that went down to 30% overnight,” said Ren.

The new rule that went into effect on Monday applies to patrons and employees of restaurants, bars and gyms. It also applies to Maui County workers.

An alternative to getting a booster shot is to show weekly negative COVID tests.

Ren said even that is challenging.

“If the county can put more resources ahead of the period ahead of these mandates coming … provide testing, to provide at-home tests, to provide resources, that makes it easier for these businesses,” Ren said.

Maui Mayor Mike Victorino said the new rule comes at a time where the county’s healthcare facilities are at “a tipping point.”

Rebecca Gauthier and her family are visiting from Canada. She wasn’t aware of Maui’s new booster mandate but said she likes it.

“I think it’s a good idea especially with the little guy now,” Rebecca said referencing her eight-month-old baby Bentley.

Rebecca’s mother-in-law, Brenda, said she learned about the new rule Monday evening.

“I thought it was a great thing. I feel safe being here versus going to some other places that don’t have that. That was one of the reasons we were happy going here with the little one,” said Brenda.

Maui is the first county to change its definition of “fully vaccinated” to include a booster.

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