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County sets $250, $500 COVID-19 violation fines

LIHU‘E — County authorities now have the ability to fine individuals $250 and business owners $500 for violating state and county COVID-19 rules.

Mayor Derek Kawakami issued the new emergency rule Friday, effective immediately, which was approved by Gov. David Ige, establishing a set of infractions for noncompliance of rules governing the wearing of masks, sizes of indoor and outdoor gatherings and restaurant and social-establishment capacities.

Current rules state individuals are required to wear masks indoors unless they are actively eating or drinking. Bars, restaurants and other social establishments must operate at 50% capacity, and events with more than 50 people must contact the county and seek approval. No more than 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors are allowed to gather at one time in a social setting.

“This new rule will allow for better enforcement of mask rules, gathering and capacity limits and event requirements with fines instead of misdemeanor offenses,” Kawakami said in a release.

Kawakami pointed to the currently surging COVID-19 infection rate in the state spurred by a more-transmittable variant of the virus.

“The highly contagious delta variant is spreading through our community,” Kawakami said ahead of the Labor Day weekend. “We all need to follow the rules to slow the spread of this disease while our case counts are at a record high. Please avoid large gatherings this holiday weekend and in the weeks to come, for the health of our community.”

Those with the county’s Department of Liquor Control, Department of Parks &Recreation park rangers and Kaua‘i Police Department officers have the authority to enforce the rule.

“Establishing lesser offenses and penalties than a misdemeanor will allow officers to more efficiently enforce the safety rules,” KPD Assistant Chief Mark Begley said. “We hope these fines will be a good deterrence as we work to slow the spread of COVID-19.”

The rule is specific in distinguishing between attendees at gatherings and organizers, with owners and organizing leaders facing a doubled fine of $500. Rule No. 26, issued during this COVID-19 emergency period, was long-awaited by some as the Labor Day weekend approached, and states that the fine will be applied for each infraction.

Additionally, the rule also gives park rangers the authority to issue traffic-infraction fines.

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Sabrina Bodon, editor, can be reached at 245-0441 or sbodon@thegardenisland.com.
Source: The Garden Island

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