Maui Mayor relaxing pandemic rule on COVID-19 boosters due to dropping cases
February 4, 2022, 4:21 PM HST
* Updated February 8, 11:23 AM
Maui Mayor Michael Victorino is relaxing a restriction that had required patrons to show proof of “updated” vaccination status reflecting booster completion for those who qualified, if they wanted to dine inside restaurants, or visit other businesses considered by the county to be “high-risk.”
Come Monday, Feb. 7, 2022, the “updated” vaccination records reflecting proof of having a booster, will no longer be required for these activities. County officials provided clarification, saying the booster will be recommended, not required; but a CDC card showing proof of vaccination is still required for these activities.
“Due to the number of cases dropping throughout the county and the state, and our hospital being lessened with the burden of high numbers,” Mayor Victorino said he decided to follow recommendations of Maui hospital leaders and executives, and removing the requirement.
Mayor Victorino made the announcement during a press briefing on Friday afternoon, saying he made the decision after talking with Maui Memorial Medical Center’s Dr. Michael Shea and Maui Health CEO, Michael Rembis.
The rule went into effect nearly two weeks ago on Jan. 24, amid rising COVID-19 case counts and hospitalizations. It had required proof of a booster to confirm patrons were “up to date” with their vaccination, if they wanted to dine indoors at a restaurant or bar, or exercise inside of a gym.
Mayor Victorino noted that Maui had over 15,000 cases in January, exceeding the prior 21 months all-together.
Hospitalizations on Maui have since dropped to 38 today, after reaching a high of 56 reported on Jan. 28, 2022. Maui County’s seven day average of cases is now 108.6 cases per 100,000, well below the 412.1 per 100,000 reported on Jan. 21, 2022.
“When this was first being made a mandate, our numbers were soaring exponentially, and so we needed to make these changes,” said Mayor Victorino.
The mayor noted that when the omicron variant first emerged in late November 2021, the CDC strengthened its recommendation for those age 12 and older to get a booster shot five months after receiving their initial Pfizer or Moderna two-shot series or two months after receiving the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
In a press release issued after the briefing, the change was described as a shift from ‘requirement’ to ‘recommendation.’
Going forward, Mayor Victorino said, he’s considering “a lot of options.”
“But really, I’d like to say one day at a time. Let’s see where we are in a couple of weeks after the Super Bowl, after Valentine’s Day. It’s very important to keep an eye, because there’s also omicron stealth and other variants that could occur. So let’s be vigilant. Let’s do what’s right. Let’s be responsible. I know we can,” said Mayor Victorino. “I’m happy the people of Maui County have asked… I have listened to their wants. I’ve listened to some of the changes they recommended, and when feasible, I’ve always instituted those changes.”
When asked if there are any changes coming for Maui’s indoor mask mandate, Mayor Victorino noted that the rule is a state mandate. “I’m waiting on word from the governor and the state to see when they want to relax the indoor mandate as far as mask wearing is concerned,” Mayor Victorino said.