Launch of Maui Safer Outside runs smooth for businesses; Concerns loom over program’s duration

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) — As of Wednesday, Sept. 15, customers 12 years and older must show proof of COVID vaccination under the Maui Safer Outdoors order. Unvaccinated guests can eat in outdoor areas or grab takeout.

For Maui Brewing Company, so far so good.

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“So far, I haven’t had any reports of anything bad, and it seems to be going smoothly,” said Garrett Marrero, CEO of Maui Brewing Co. “You know that is not without hesitation and maybe even a little trepidation that that will come. I just hope that everybody is patient, kind and acts with a bit of aloha.”

The rules also apply to employees. Full or part-time workers must show proof of vaccination, but they also have the option of a weekly negative COVID test. TS Restaurants, which operates Duke’s Beach House and other establishments, said getting those tests came down to the wire.

“I don’t think everyone anticipated that there would be a rush on testing,” said Greg Ames, TS Restaurants Maui vice president of operations. “So, there are some folks that figured they could wait until the day of or the day before to get the test and that’s not as easy as we would all hope.”

Meanwhile, a Maui favorite, Sam Sato’s, are opting for take-out only. The Hawaii Restaurant Association said the eatery is not alone with other restaurants doing the same.

“I think that this makes a lot of sense, especially with not wanting to have to be the person that’s educating the guests or not wanting to have to be the person that’s trying to explain the mandate and with the staffing issues that we already have,” Tambara Garrick, director for the Hawaii Restaurant Association.

The new rules come just as the slow tourism season begins. Maui County said its visitor industry count has already dropped by 40% — causing some restaurants to prepare for the worst.

“The changes we are seeing are 20% decreases week over week over week. It’s not sustainable when we’re trying to add back our teammates,” said Marrero.

The Maui Safer Outside program will continue for the next 30 days.

“We’re not out of the woods yet, so I would not want to venture off to say anything more than we’ll just continue to monitor and with these extra safety precautions put in place for the next 30 days. I believe and hope it will help reduce the numbers further,” said Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino.

Find more COVID-19 news: cases, vaccinations on our Coronavirus News page

Maui County said if coronavirus cases improve and hospitalization capacity decreases, Mayor Victorino will reevaluate the rules earlier.

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