Under emergency order, city to make non-medical face masks mandatory in public

Updated: Apr. 14, 2020 at 3:47 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The city is making face masks mandatory for most interactions in public, including when visiting businesses, on the city bus, or when ordering from the drive-thru.

The order takes effect Monday, giving people enough time to acquire masks. Mayor Kirk Caldwell said the order is aimed at cutting down on the chance of spreading coronavirus in public spaces.

Under the emergency order, masks include any type of face covering, including scarves or bandanas. Officials stressed that N95 and surgical masks should be reserved for health care workers.

Masks are not required in banks or at ATMs, and for those with pre-existing health conditions that may prevent them from wearing a face covering.

The city said it planned to have the order apply to everyone of all ages. But Caldwell said that might amended to exclude the very young.

The CDC says children 2 and under should not wear face masks.

When asked about enforcement of the order, Caldwell said it will be “incumbent on the public to comply.” He added that businesses will also be tasked with enforcing the rule.

Honolulu’s announcement comes a day after Kauai issued a similar requirement.

Under Kauai’s emergency order, everyone 5 and over has to wear a cloth face mask during most activities in public.

Masks can protect their wearers, but chiefly protect others.

Because about 1 in 4 people with coronavirus can be asymptomatic, the CDC now recommends that everyone wear a mask in public.

The city’s new order comes amid conversations about how Hawaii might start to lift emergency stay-at-home restrictions.

“Any coming out of this will probably be gradual,” Caldwell said Tuesday, adding that cloth face masks might help as the city looks to deem more businesses “essential” so they can operate.

This story will be updated.

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