COVID Mandates, Cases Drop
By Catherine Cluett Pactol
As COVID cases have sharply declined in recent weeks, so have Maui County’s mandates surrounding the virus. The state has yet to drop indoor masking and Safe Travels requirements but Maui County lifted its requirement to show proof of vaccination or testing for indoor service at restaurants, bars and gyms as of Feb. 21. Additionally, the county reopened two of its camping sites on Molokai as well as community centers for public events as of March 1.
Dept. of Health data reports Molokai had five positive COVID cases between Friday, Feb. 18 and Friday, Feb. 25. The previous week logged 14 new cases.
How long state regulations will remain in place is yet to be determined.
“We know masking is effective, but even if we don’t extend a requirement by emergency proclamation, our residents have a high degree of compliance and will do what they can to keep our community safe,” wrote Gov. Davis Ige on Feb. 25.
The current Hawaii Emergency Proclamation is set to expire on March 25.
“We do anticipate eventually closing the Safe Travels program, but the timeline is still being discussed. No other state is requiring vaccinations or boosters for travel. From a public health perspective and the status of our healthcare system, we’re in good shape for now,” continued Ige.
Booster shots are not required for “up-to-date” vaccination status for anyone traveling to Hawaii.
On the county level, mandates continue to be dropped, with last week’s two announcements bringing more freedom for Molokai residents.
“With the rapid decline of new COVID-19 cases and related hospitalizations, we can safely eliminate the proof-of-vaccination requirement for bars, restaurants and gyms,” Mayor Michael Victorino said. “We successfully avoided overloading our health-care capacity, so many thanks to the community and especially the business operators who have struggled through this entire pandemic.”
Victorino added that COVID recommendations still stand, however.
“This rule change, and more to come, doesn’t mean we can throw caution to the wind. We advise continuing to wear face masks while indoors in public spaces and to maintain physical distancing when in groups of people from outside of your household. COVID-19 is still circulating out there.”
Two county campgrounds have reopened on Molokai as of March 1– One Ali`i Park in Kaunakakai, Papohaku Park on the West End of Molokai.
Kalae’s Pala’au State Park and other state facilities remain under Hawaii state restrictions.
Most County community centers with capacities up to 300 people also reopen for public use on March 1, including Molokai’s Mitchell Pauole Center.
“With COVID-19 new cases and hospitalizations continuing to trend downward dramatically, it’s time for our residents to return to the activities that they enjoy — camping with friends and family and attending birthday parties, baby luau and other events at community centers,” Victorino said. “Now, we can reclaim our island lifestyle and put COVID-19 restrictions behind us.”
For information on park permits and community center reservations, visit mauicounty.gov/410/Park-Permits.