Some call mayor’s proposed expansion of mask mandate government overreach

Published: Jul. 28, 2020 at 11:40 PM HST|Updated: Jul. 28, 2020 at 11:42 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell wants to require face coverings just about everywhere outside the home, even while exercising outdoors.

“If it interferes with your jogging or interferes with playing a sport, cause this is going to apply to people playing little league baseball, playing basketball, then you either need to slow down your activity or stop doing it,” he said, at a news conference Tuesday.

Currently on Oahu, masks are mandatory inside places like restaurants and gyms. They are optional outside until you can’t keep a 6-foot social distance.

Taking away that option would make Oahu's mask mandate one of the strictest in the country.

And that’s got some saying the proposal is government overreach.

“That is not in your jurisdiction to make, mayor. And I understand that there are desires to try and take care of this COVID spike, but we need to remember where it started from,” Candidate for House District 51 Kukana Kama-Toth said, in a social media post.

“We have mad resources going into tracking and looking at tourists or visitors who are breaking quarantine.”

Honolulu resident R.J. Martin says wearing a mask while playing beach volleyball will be virtually impossible.

“If you’re outside and you’re sweating and you have a mask on, you actually can’t breathe so that’s not really feasible,” said Martin. “There should be a plan and there should be something that we’re aiming towards. Not just this arbitrary, reactionary rules and regulations that seems to kind of change with the weather.”

Recently, Hawaii has seen record highs for new COVID-19 cases and the vast majority of which are on Oahu.

Hawaii has reported 850 new coronavirus cases so far this month, compared to just 276 cases in June.

Some agree with the mayor that something needs to be done.

“Especially on Oahu, it’s spiking right now. So, rather than having another lockdown, I would prefer to wear a mask,” Waikiki resident Jason Timbresa said.

Caldwell’s proposal would still exempt people in pools or the ocean, kids under six years old and those with certain medical conditions.

The governor’s response to his proposal is expected on Wednesday.

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