Maui Lawmaker, Husband Face Charges Of Violating Virus Order

Jun 23, 2020

WAILUKU — A Hawaii lawmaker and her husband are scheduled to be arraigned on charges of violating a coronavirus stay-at-home order for stretching on a Maui beach.

Democratic state House Rep. Tina Wildberger and her husband, Michael, are scheduled to appear in Wailuku District Court July 16, The Maui News reported Saturday.

The citations issued by police said the couple was at Keawakapu Beach in Kihei May 3 and were seen stretching without moving from a spot for more than 10 minutes.

They told an officer they did the same thing the previous day without being cited by officers who passed by, the citations said.

The misdemeanor charge carries a penalty of up to one year in jail and a fine up to $5,000.

Tina Wildberger said in an email that police officers on all-terrain vehicles were stopped nearby while she and her husband were stretching. One of the officers approached and said they were observed remaining in one place for 10 minutes in violation of health restrictions.

“We responded that we are actively stretching and that beach exercise had been permitted by the mayor," she said.

Mayor Michael Victorino’s emergency order that took effect in mid-March prohibited sunbathing, sunset-watching and other sedentary activities at beaches, while other activities including exercise and fishing were permitted. Maui County beaches were reopened May 16 for all activities.

Tina Wildberger said the officers cited another beachgoer, who then pointed out the couple.

Tina Wildberger asked the officer to cite them because she believed there should be a discussion about not criminalizing stretching and yoga exercises while providing safe spaces during a health lockdown.

When appearing in court, “we intend to present that while officers were put in a very difficult position trying to adjudicate various behaviors, all in an effort to keep residents safe, this case was clearly one of what-aboutism,” she said.

Wildberger represents state House District 11, which includes Kihei, Wailea and Makena.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death. The vast majority of people recover.