[Story updated at 7:18pm on 3/18 to add a comment from county spokesperson Chris Sugidono about penalties for rule violations.]

Maui Mayor Michael Victorino announced new “Public Health Emergency Rules” to combat the spread of COVID-19. The rules will go into effect at 7:45am on Friday, March 20, 2020 and will limit “gatherings of groups of people and [curtail] vehicle transportation except for essential activities or operation of essential business or government functions.”

According to a statement released March 18, the rules include:

  • Requiring restaurants and cafes that serve food within the premises to close; however, take-out and delivery service may continue.
  • Bars, nightclubs, theaters, tourist attractions, and other venues where the public gather must remain closed.
  • All stores selling essential goods must provide dedicated shopping hours for higher-risk groups including kupuna over 60 and individuals of any age with medical conditions.

“Our primary focus is to look after the health and safety of our community. Technically, violation of any of the public health emergency rules is punishable as a misdemeanor, with fines of up to $5,000, up to a year in jail, or both,” said county spokesperson Chris Sugidono. “However, we continue to ask for the public’s help and understanding as we take action to slow the spread of this virus.”

Grocery stores, farmers markets, supermarkets, food banks, convenience stores and gas stations that engage in the retail sale of canned food, dry goods, fresh fruits and vegetables, pet supply, fresh meats, fish, and poultry, and other household consumer products, gasoline and products necessary to maintain the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences may remain open. 

Essential services exempt from the rules include:

  1. Tasks essential to maintain health and safety, such as obtaining medicine or seeing a doctor;
  2. Getting necessary services or supplies for an individual or that individual’s family or household members, such as getting food, pet food, and supplies necessary for staying at home;
  3. Engaging in solitary or small group outdoor activity, such as walking, hiking, running or golfing provided that you maintain at least six feet of social distancing;
  4. Performing work related to operation of an essential business or essential government function (defined below);
  5. Caring for a family member in another household;
  6. Caring for elderly, minors, dependents, person with disabilities, or other vulnerable persons.

Other exemptions from the rules related to essential services include:

  1. Healthcare operations, including home health workers;
  2. Essential infrastructure, including construction of housing and operation of public transportation and utilities;
  3. Businesses that provide necessities of life for economically disadvantaged individuals and shelter facilities;
  4. Pharmacies, health care supply stores, and health care facilities;
  5. Gas stations and auto repair facilities;
  6. Banks;
  7. Rubbish collection;
  8. Hardware stores, plumbers, electricians, and other service providers necessary to maintain the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences and businesses;
  9. Laundromats and laundry service providers;
  10. Businesses that primarily ship or deliver groceries, food, and goods;
  11. Childcare facilities providing services that enable essential employees to go to work;
  12. Roles required for any Essential Business to “maintain basic operations,” which include security, payroll, and similar activities.

Regular meetings or hearings conducted by boards and commissions are also suspended, although they may be conducted via alternate methods where possible.

The county is restricting travel on Piilani Highway from Ulupalakua to Kipahulu and on Kahekili Highway from Waihee to Kahakuloa village to local traffic only. The State Department of Transportation is also restricting travel on Hana Highway from Kaupakalua Road to Hana town to local traffic only.

“We need to take dramatic action to limit the spread of this infectious virus,” Mayor Victorino said. “We cannot do this alone, so we’re asking our community to follow these rules and look out for one another as we face this unprecedented crisis.”

Visit Mauicounty.us and Mauitime.com/covid19 for updates.

The situation around the pandemic is fluid. Visit Health.Hawaii.gov for the latest updates from the state. MauiTime is posting live updates and coverage on local business closures, schedule changes, and government responses relating to the COVID-19 pandemic at MauiTime.com/Covid-19.

If you, your family, or place of work has been affected by COVID-19, we want to hear from you. Please contact us at editor@mauitime.com or tips@mauitime.com.

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