Honolulu mayor’s expanded mask order goes into effect ahead of busy holiday weekend

Ahead of busy holiday weekend, mayor expands mask order in push to prevent spread of virus

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s expanded mask order goes into effect on Friday ahead of a busy July 4 holiday weekend.

Caldwell said Thursday the order clarifies his previous mandate while also broadening it, saying they’re now required in all indoor public settings and outdoors if social distancing isn’t possible.

It applies to all private businesses, including indoor offices that do not deal directly with the public.

[To read the amended order, click here.]

“You’re required to wear a mask now whether you interface with the public or not,” Caldwell said. “Everyone wears a mask walking down the hall, going to get a cup of coffee, at all times until you go sit at your desk.”

He acknowledged enforcement would be difficult and also appeared to offer some wiggle room to the order, saying that if you’re at the gym and breathing hard you’re not required to wear a mask.

In announcing the changes, he urged people to do their part.

“Until there’s a vaccine, we need to manage the number of cases,” Caldwell said, at a news conference Thursday. “And if we lose control, we could end up where we were in the dark days of March.”

The order comes as a growing number of jurisdictions require masks, which have been politicized in the nation’s culture wars. To fight a surge in new COVID-19 cases, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday ordered face coverings be worn in public across most of the state. He’d previously opposed a mask order.

A growing number of studies show masks can slow the spread of coronavirus when people interact.

There are exceptions to Honolulu’s mask order, including for children under 5 and those with medical conditions. Masks also aren’t required in banks or when using the ATM.

The modified rule comes as Hawaii prepares to celebrate July Fourth. Caldwell urged residents to gather responsibly, keeping a distance whenever possible and steering clear of large crowds.

There are no public fireworks shows this year because of the pandemic, but first responders say they’re bracing for a large turnout at Hawaii’s beaches. The state previously said a bump in new cases was linked to Memorial Day celebrations, and have urged residents to stick to “ohana bubbles” if possible.

On Thursday, Hawaii reported 20 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 946. Most were on Oahu and several were linked to a cluster identified at Hawaiian Airlines’ Honolulu headquarters.

This story will be updated.

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