Ige OKs Hawaii County youth sports spectators, denies Maui


HONOLULU (KHON2) — Spectators are returning to youth sporting events on Hawaii Island, Mayor Mitch Roth announced Monday.

It comes just days after Maui Mayor Michael Victorino said he was allowing spectators to return to organized sporting events on the Valley Isle.

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Honolulu has allowed spectators at youth sports for months, but on the neighbor islands, there are questions about why one county was allowed to ease restrictions while another was not.

Mayor Victorino is going against the wishes of Gov. David Ige, who denied his request to allow spectators at outdoor sports last week.

“I did tell him despite his position, I’ve decided to lift the ban on spectators at sports events held outdoors,” Mayor Victorino said.

Mask-wearing is required in Maui County for sporting events, and individual group sizes can’t exceed 10 people.

Gov. Ige’s office told KHON2 on Monday:

“Gov. Ige and Mayor Victorino meet — along with the other county mayors — several times a week to discuss COVID-case numbers, hospital capacity and restrictions. The governor and Mayor Victorino continue to discuss the possibility of allowing spectators at outdoor sports events on Maui. Gov. Ige has the final say on requests from the county mayors.”

Maui County still went through with immediately allowing spectators on Friday.

“I believe it’s the right thing to do. No offense to the Governor. I don’t mean to be disrespectful. I don’t mean to be disobedient,” Mayor Victorino said.

Hawaii County says they didn’t get push back from Gov. Ige, but they are mandating event exemptions to allow for gathering sizes above the limit of 25 for organized sports.

“We haven’t seen any spikes, any cases coming out of these events, so we feel that we really had early on the best way of dealing with these group events. Because of it, I think Governor has seen such positive feedback from it that he wasn’t very reluctant to say, yeah go for it,” said Hawaii County director of communications Cyrus Johnasen.

If all goes well, it could lead to easing more restrictions.

“As long as they can do that and keep that in mind, I can foresee us opening up to greater numbers in a short amount of time, but we have to prove that we can do it first, and that’s why we’re opening up now,” Johnasen said.

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A question to Gov. Ige’s office about why Hawaii County’s request was approved while Maui’s was denied was not returned at the time of this writing.

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