BREAKING: Maui “Safer Outside” Rules Includes Vaccine Guidelines at Eateries
County officials are calling Maui’s new set of rules “Safer Outside.” It includes the previously announced vaccine guidelines for eateries, and newly announced reduction in capacity for commercial recreational boating, ground transportation, and commercial tour operators. There will also be no spectators at indoor or outdoor sporting events.
“We are calling our new set of rules Safer Outside,” said Maui County Managing Director Sandy Baz, who explained that the newly revised Public Health Emergency Rules For Maui County are “not quite Safer-at-Home.”
“This means that all gatherings up to a maximum of 10, should be held outside whenever possible. We are modifying social gatherings inside [to] five people, [and] outside up to 10 people,” said Baz. “For outside shared areas, individuals must comply with physical distancing requirements of at least six feet of physical separation from all other persons who are not part of the same household. And this goes for everyplace that you’re at.”
Maui Mayor Michael Victorino said that although changes were approved by Governor David Ige, the County is still finalizing a few details, and we will be announcing those additional guidelines at a later date.
Several key changes were outlined by Baz and include the following, effective Sept. 15, 2021:
- Commercial events: must apply for an exemption for any event planned for more than 50 people. Commercial events are under the management of professional event planners or professional caterers and are hosted at a commercial venue. Group organizers will be responsible for ensuring compliance.
- Restaurants, bars and other high risk activities:
- Maui County will be limiting operations for these businesses to close by 10 p.m.
- Patrons must remain seated with no mingling among patrons.
- Maui County is also modifying the current rule, requiring that indoor operations may operate at the 50% capacity, provided that all customers over the age of 12 provide proof of full vaccination.
- Completed vaccination cards and original photo copied or digital form, or other similar vaccination documents from a health care provider are acceptable proof. The governor is working on an electronic system for that verification right now.
- Unvaccinated patrons must be served in outdoor dining areas or with takeout or drive-thru service only.
- Gyms, fitness centers and other high risk businesses: may operate at a 50% indoor capacity, again with all customers over the age of 12 showing proof of being fully vaccinated. Operators are responsible for verifying vaccination status.
- Commercial recreational boating shall operate at no more than 50% capacity, down from 75%.
- Ground transportation and commercial tour operators: must operate at no more than 50% capacity, also down from 75%.
- Sports: No spectators will be allowed at any indoor or outdoor sporting events. This still will allow those who are playing the sports to play. Coaches and support staff are still able to attend, but no spectators. This was a compromise so that kids could still play sports, but that gatherings surroundings such activities could be reduced.
*These rules do not affect essential activities. These rules apply to non-essential activities only. The rules are temporary and will be reviewed 30 days from now. If new case counts and hospital capacities are no longer public health concerns, Maui County will look at relaxing the rules.
Mayor Victorino said rules for employees at restaurants are still being finalized. “For employees, that’s either testing, and/or being vaccinated will be one of the changes that we put together in these new rules; however for the patrons right now, it is vaccinated, or sit outside, and/or take-out,” said Mayor Victorino.
“For those claiming that vaccine mandates compromise civil liberties, the American Civil Liberties Union does disagree. They do support vaccine mandates. ACLU has publicly stated that vaccine mandates actually advance civil liberties by protecting the most vulnerable among us,” said Baz. “Although we have a fundamental right to make our own healthcare decisions, the ACLU says that these rights are not absolute because they do not include the right to inflict harms on others… For this reason, vaccine mandates rarely if ever run afoul of civil liberties when they involve highly infectious diseases such as COVID-19, and especially… this delta variant,” he said.
When asked why rules are different for restaurants versus other business establishments, Baz pointed toward masking.
“Generally the difference has been, if you’re sitting down at a restaurant, you take your mask off and you eat. If you’re very conscientious, you put it back on. Many are not, and they leave their mask off, and that just endangers everyone that they’re sitting around… If you’re shopping at a retail store or a grocery store, you’ve got your mask on at all times, waking around, even when you interact with the cashier… so that’s generally the difference of what we see, and what the high risk businesses and why the Department of Health is supporting us with this specific request,” said Baz.
When asked what the reasoning was for having a vaccine requirement on top of a 50% limit on capacity. Mayor Victorino said, “We’ve considered many other changes and this is the first step with the numbers that we have right now, barring total shutdown. So these are options. These are methods we believe can level the curve and hopefully start to bring the numbers down… and if the numbers don’t come down over the next 30 days, we may have to implement stricter rules and stricter mandates.”
As for enforcement, Mayor Victorino said that will depend on a lot of factors, including self reporting. “Many of these businesses are very conscientious because they know they can be shut down if they’re not complying. And not only shut down by us, but by an infection or outbreak in their business and people won’t come and they’ll have to close up and sanitize and get everybody quarantined. So I think a lot of it will be done by–when it comes to bars–the Liquor Department will be monitoring a lot of that. For restaurants, we hope that they’ll do the right thing and the Department of Health will have some people going out when they can to check out things. And we’ll look when we get reports… and we’ll check it out,” said Mayor Victorino.
Mayor Victorino said he is aware that there are some who are upset about the upcoming changes. “They’re calling me or threatening–I’ve had threatening calls about ‘You have no right. You’re a dummy.’ They call me every name in the book. Well you know what, I’ve seen an uptick in deaths.”
Maui’s COVID-19 deaths increased with nine deaths since the beginning of this month for a total of 77 over the course of the pandemic. “We’ve had quite a number uptick in that area. The hospital has been really overwhelmed at times, but has done a great job and I want to thank the Maui Memorial healthcare system for the excellent job they have done. But how long can we keep this up. So to be honest with you, this is the compromise that we came up [with], and we mirrored a lot of what Oʻahu did, because they have the same problem,” said Mayor Victorino.
“If you don’t understand what we are trying to do, then I’m sorry. We’re really trying to keep Maui open for you the consumer, you the people of Maui County,” he said. “And even then, I’m going to be honest with you, you’re probably going to see some layoffs very soon and other repercussions from this next move–this next mandate. But to say that we should do more at this time, maybe. But this is a compromise and we’re not trying to hurt anyone. We’re really trying to balance this out as best we can,” said Mayor Victorino.