Hawaii officials notice a worrisome trend: Fewer residents wearing masks

Hawaii officials notice a worrisome trend: Fewer residents wearing masks
Signage is posted all over Ala Moana Center reminding customers to wear mask and practice good social distancing. (Source: Hawaii News Now)

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Amid an uptick in new COVID-19 cases in Hawaii, the governor is urging residents to remain vigilant and take necessary precautions, like wearing a mask.

“We cannot be complacent,” he said, at a news conference Monday. “We can only be successful in this battle against COVID-19 if each and everyone of us take responsibility.”

In recent days, Hawaii has seen the number of new COVID-19 increase slightly. And on Friday and Saturday, the state saw double-digit jumps for the first time in nearly two months.

Those increases come as the state prepares to lift restrictions on inter-island travel and allow more higher risk businesses to reopen, including bars and movie theaters.

State Health Director Bruce Anderson said there does appear to be a decline in people wearing cloth face coverings or masks in public ― and that is a concern.

The governor’s emergency order requires face masks at most public settings.

In a state House hearing Monday on the state’s COVID-19 response, several participants also expressed frustration over residents not wearing cloth masks in public or maintaining social distancing guidelines.

Tina Yamaki, president of the Retail Merchants Association, said some businesses are struggling to police their customers.

“What we are finding out is that people just don’t do it and they are fighting back now and the responsibility falls on the retailer,” she said.

Alan Oshima, the state’s economic recovery navigator, said the state may need to revisit the importance of wearing a mask in public and push forward a “message of individual responsibility.”

“We’ve done such a good job of public health that people are relaxing," he said.

This story will be updated.

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