Correction: A previous version of this story had an incorrect date that Victorino said he was dropping the booster requirement. The story has been corrected.
WAILUKU, Hawaii (KHON2) — Maui Mayor Michael Victorino announced Friday, Feb. 4, that Maui will be dropping the booster requirement to be considered fully vaccinated in the county.
Victorino cites dropping case numbers and lower hospitalizations for the move along with discussions with health officials.
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Victorino said, “the showing of proof of updated vaccinated including boosters to dine in restaurants will no longer be required.”
The mayor’s order stated that being fully vaccinated meant getting a booster shot five months after the second Pfizer or Moderna shot or two months after the Johnson & Johnson single shot.
The booster requirement began in January for those who were eligible — 18-years-old and older — who wanted to dine indoors at a restaurant or bar or work out at a gym.
The mayor’s office said the relaxation of the rules only applies to boosters. People will still need to have their initial vaccine series completed to dine in or enter indoor gyms.
Victorino implemented the booster requirement when coronavirus cases were soaring, with more than 15,000 cases in January alone.
Data from the Hawaii State Department of Health demonstrate cases on the decline, from Jan. 20 to Feb. 2, cases went down by 67%.
The Hawaii Restaurant Association Board of Directors Secretary Tambara Garrick said she is glad Victorino listened to the industry as well as followed the advice of medical professionals to loosen restrictions at this time.
Garrick said, “He was willing to see that the numbers were coming down, that it was a challenge for the restaurant industry.”
Meanwhile, Mala Tavern, Javier Barberi’s owner, said the brief change to require boosters was confusing for clients and it actually hurt their sales.
“We dealt with a decline in sales, and upset customers,” Barberi said. “Retraining of staff on new policies again, it’s getting a little bit, you know, it’s a toll on the staff and on us.”
Maui was the first to implement a booster requirement in Hawaii.
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The move takes effect Monday, Feb. 7.