BREAKING: Vaccines no longer required to dine-in on Maui, starting Monday Feb. 21
February 18, 2022, 4:38 PM HST
* Updated February 22, 8:11 AM
Come Monday, Maui’s longstanding rule regarding proof of vaccination status to dine-in at restaurants or to visit other “high risk” businesses like bars and gyms, will be lifted.
The announcement was made during Mayor Michael Victorino’s press briefing on Friday afternoon.
In changing the county’s public health emergency rules, Mayor Victorino said, “Beginning Monday, Feb. 21, proof of vaccinations will no longer–I repeat be no longer required–for indoor service at restaurants, bars, and gyms.”
As for the County of Maui’s indoor mask requirement, that will be subject to Governor David Ige’s emergency proclamation. “So it will be up to the governor to lift the indoor mask mandate,” said Mayor Victorino.
“But we’re able to take these cautionary steps because of the rapid decline of COVID-19 cases, not only within the State of Hawaiʻi and County of Maui, but throughout the nation, and the related hospitalizations that have also dropped,” said Mayor Victorino.
Over a 15 day period between Jan. 24 and Feb. 7, 2022, an added restriction of “updated” vaccination status reflecting booster completion for those who qualified was implemented amid a rise in omicron cases. That rule was lifted earlier this month due to dropping cases and hospitalizations from a high point at the end of January.
Earlier this week, Lieutenant Governor Josh Green told Maui Now that leadership discussions are now centered on allowing the state’s emergency proclamation, which includes the Safe Travels program and other COVID-19 rules, to expire March 25. Maui County Managing Director Sandy Baz, meanwhile, said the Safe Travels program may be eliminated in the next month or two, adding that nothing has been set in stone.
In Maui County, the seven day average for new daily cases dropped to 61 today, with today’s count including 60 cases on Maui, and one each on Molokaʻi and Lānaʻi. There are now 11 people hospitalized in Maui County with COVID-19, below both the 41 reported during the height of the delta surge in August 2021, and the previous omicron high of 56 reported on Jan. 28, 2022.
Mayor Victorino thanked the community for their hard work, saying it helped to avoid overloading the County’s healthcare capacity.
“Mahalo to our community and its business operators who have been heavily impacted by COVID-19 over the past two years. These rule changes and others to come later, does not mean that we throw caution to the wind. We’ve got to stay vigilant,” he said, noting that the County of Maui will still advise the use of facial coverings indoors, in public, and in maintaining physical distancing when in groups, especially with people outside of household groups.
When asked if he plans to implement any type of endemic response plan like California announced recently, Mayor Victorino said, “The State of Hawaiʻi and the County of Maui are working in that direction of an endemic. We are hoping and praying that this pandemic will pass, and we’ll move into what we call an endemic phase, where we learn to live and manage COVID like we do with other viruses.”
“Over the next month or so, you will see a lot of changes that will be occurring,” said Mayor Victorino, but continued to urge vigilance.
When asked what triggers will result in a return to rules regarding vaccine cards at high risk businesses, Mayor Victorino said hospitalizations will be one factor.
“At this point, the state as well as the county will be mindful of our hospitals. Our hospitals are really the key to all of this now. Infection rates have been higher. We’ve had higher numbers around this community; but when we were stressing our medical facilities, especially our hospital, then we had to really look to wrench it back and hold or tow the the line, and raise the requirements,” said Mayor Victorino.
He continued, “I hope we don’t have to. If we work hard together, we may never have to get back to that point; however, please do your part. It’s your kuleana. You need to do what is right, and if you are, we will stay safe as a community.”