Mayor Interview: “We Need a Few Good Weeks to Get Us Back On Track”
Maui Mayor Michael Victorino continued to express frustrations over large gatherings and drum circle activity as the state continues to record new COVID-19 activity. His comments come on the heels of new rules that went into effect in Maui County on Friday that limit indoor and outdoor social gatherings to no more than 10 people, and prohibit the use of large structures that may attract gatherings, such as tents and pavilions at parks and beaches.
“We had gatherings down at Mākena at the Mākena State Beach Park. At the same time we have a large brush fire up in Kahikinui, which takes away police and fire resources,” said Mayor Victorino, noting that there’s an added stress on personnel and area residents.
He discussed the challenges during a morning interview on KPOA 93.5 FM with host Shane Kahalehau.
“I think frustration and ignorance is all coming together.… there are some, a small percentage, but they stand out like a sore thumb that do things like this and just create more anxiety and more stress for our community,” said Mayor Victorino.
“You can tell us, but sometimes we don’t have the resources to get there, to do something, to help you. Especially in these kinds of cases, because if there’s an accident or there’s some life-threatening situation, or residents are threatened with a fire, we’ve got to make that the priority versus a bunch of knuckleheads dancing on the beach with drums and everything else,” said Mayor Victorino.
“They’re doing it in very remote areas or in isolated areas so that they can see if the police come, then they scatter. I mean, it’s a cat and mouse game right now, and it’s sad. And yet I ask the residents who are getting frustrated not to take the law into their own hands because that’s the last thing I want to see–is civil disobedience and confrontation,” said Mayor Victorino.
“We are in the middle of a pandemic. It’s bounced back because, much of it because of either gatherings like this or travel,” said the mayor, who also expressed disappointment with a contest in Waimea on Oʻahu where countless people were gathered to watch others jumping off of a rock.
“We locked down, we got the curve lowered, we got it flattened and everything was going good; and then we started to ease the reopening. Like the Lt. Gov. said this morning on the news, if this doesn’t stop, if this continues to grow, we’ll have to go back all the way to square one–stay at home. Do you know how that will devastate our economy, how that will devastate the people whose dreams right now have been shattered, now will be destroyed,” said Mayor Victorino.
“We’re trying our best, but we have a limited number of resources… and I’ve got to protect people from other situations,” said Mayor Victorino noting a diver was lost offshore at Pāʻia on Friday, with a search conducted over the weekend. “Our resources are not just for COVID-19. It is for all the other issues here in Maui County… all the other emergencies.”
Mayor Victorino noted that law enforcement had been called to multiple large parties. He noted that the National Guard can only support efforts, and cannot serve as law enforcement. “They’re there as a support role. They’re there to help inform and educate–they can help us with that,” said Mayor Victorino. The guardsmen were used in the past to man checkpoints, support contact tracing, medical testing at the airport and temperature checks.
The mayor encouraged reminders to friends and family who are not following emergency rules saying, “What’s so hard about just staying out of big groups. What’s so important that you can’t stay away from a big group, especially if you’re not wearing face masks and you’re not trying to physical distance. That’s all we’re asking–nothing really hard,” he said.
“I hate to go, and the next week or two if this doesn’t subside, and we may have to go back to stay-at-home orders. And that will create a whole new issue and problem,” said Mayor Victorino.
“That’s all I ask… let’s just start living aloha. We came into this pandemic and we can come out together… There’s no question in my mind… we set our mind to shut down this pandemic–we did, and we can do it again. We need a few good weeks to get us back on track. This will help all of us; help all of our businesses that are struggling,” said Mayor Victorino.