Since it is Good Friday 2021, during a pandemic, it’s probably the best of all times to talk about the new tale of Kings Cathedral and Chapel Church in Kahului Maui and the discovery that it’s a site of a super spreader event.
It is also a good time to share an observation about how much the government is now willing to even try to enforce the rules.
Here is the tale. Back on March 7, the State Dept. of Health went to the leaders of Kings Cathedral that it had detected a cluster. In the same meeting, it was reported that they were recommended to shut down face-to-face services, go virtual (online) until the wave subsides.
Instead of heeding the advice, King’s kept their face-to-face operations going, and scheduled events including a youth conference in the middle of March.
Now you would have thought that by now, Maui County would have heard enough from the community and the Dept. of Health that the church was not heeding the advice given, and that the word would have come down to “step up enforcement” of the emergency rules.
But instead, the county did nothing.
The county didn’t make real efforts as what some would think to make the suggestion more like a dictum. After all, other counties and the State of Hawaii seemed to have no problem whatsoever in enforcing pandemic emergency rules to the point where if you put one foot into a county park in Honolulu, you were cited with a misdemeanor and told to show up at court.
So we move to this week, wherein the weekly cluster report by the Dept. of Health, named Kings as a cluster event. That immediately led the Mayor of Maui, Michael Victorino to again suggest in his style that the church immediately cancel its Easter Services, go to virtual services and wait for things to calm down before resuming services.
Even the Governor of Hawaii, David Ige, jumped on the message and said that he felt that everyone in the state should think about attending Easter services virtually to keep the counts down.
So you’d think that King’s would “get the message” and be a good neighbor and just do what the authorities are “strongly suggesting”…
Instead, Kings pushed back, and hard, on the suggestion to shut down. They said that they are an essential service and are allowed to hold services as they see fit within guidelines (masks, six-foot, etc.). To their benefit, they did compromise a little and canceled their Easter egg hunt event at the church.
But for the rest of it, they said to Maui County, and the state “thanks for your advice but we will do our thing.” So, they are moving ahead with Easter Service.
Now one would think by now that the county and the state would have had enough of this rebelliousness and make the extraordinary order to shut the church down. I was fully anticipating it after the cluster report came out naming them and their immediate response to it, saying thanks but no thanks.
So here is where the tale goes into a “wow, they did that?” theme. Instead of bringing the hammer down, which many who read this blog and share their thoughts with me, think that should have been done, Maui County instead invited the representatives of the church to the Mayor’s office to make their case known.
What? And then the Mayor’s office “compromises” as the article said, that the county would allow Kings to use the War Memorial Stadium for its services for Easter as an alternative?
What is going on here? Why all of the sudden is the government willing to be much more amiable to a church that has broken some pandemic emergency rule and is causing a health issue because of it? Because knowing Hawaii and its government, I suspect that the same enforcement rules and its punishments, that was first enacted back last year have not changed one iota.
This is where the personal blogger observation comes in.
Take away the vaccination rollout and the previous loosening of restrictions and you may be seeing where a government entity is finally telling everyone that it is throwing in the towel on pandemic rules enforcement.
Frankly, I would not blame them, being that enforcement at this point is like trying to play an advanced game of whack a mole. Include in the spread of vaccinations and the goal of getting enough people to take the shot to have “herd immunity”, and the drive to enforce these rules seems to be a lot less, approaching dying at some point.
Now it is been pointed out to me that this lax enforcement would not happen in any other County. I was told by a friend “Would (Kauai Mayor Derek) Kawaakami let this happen? He’d shut it down! Would (Honolulu Mayor Rick) Blangiardi do it? No, the same! As well as Mitch Roth (Mayor of Hawaii County)”.
I counter that with this observation, just like how the Governor is watching what the Mayor of Maui is doing with this, so are all the other mayors of the other counties. If they see that one mayor and county is not coming down with the hammer on these things, it simply demonstrates that, perhaps, the enforcement gig is up.
Furthermore, others are watching this too and taking notes. Those entities include every single other religious entity in this state, and just about every other company in the state that does just about anything – from weddings to catering food for potlucks – if they see that enforcement is now spongy soft than rock hard on pandemic orders, they may start to take more liberties in their operations.
The final analysis suggests that we may soon start to see a larger unraveling of the pandemic rules, even though they might still be on the books and, perhaps, enforceable if there is enough desire to do so. What the government should maybe do to prevent it from looking like a toothless tiger when it comes to enforcing rules is to roll out an “unraveling plan”. This would allow people and entities to know “the rules are still in place, but we can see us rescinding them on XXX date. So please continue to abide by the rules, but know we are about done with them”
I am sure that will be a better way to get everyone to keep to the rules than arbitrarily choosing which ones to enforce, and not.