Honolulu’s mayor joins chorus of leaders calling for statewide mask mandate

On a recent afternoon, Mayor Kirk Caldwell hands out masks in Waikiki.
On a recent afternoon, Mayor Kirk Caldwell hands out masks in Waikiki.(Hawaii News Now)
Published: Oct. 29, 2020 at 1:32 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell called on the governor Thursday to institute a statewide mask mandate rather than allowing counties to come up with their own rules.

The mayor joins a host of other leaders who have called for a clear, universal rule on masks.

Lt. Gov. Josh Green has also said Hawaii needs a statewide mandate.

At a news conference Thursday about Halloween safety protocols, Caldwell said the state must keep mask wearing rates high in order to prevent a surge in new COVID-19 cases.

“I wish we had a statewide mask mandate,” he said. “I think mask wearing is so important.”

Caldwell said he has asked the governor multiple times to institute a statewide mask mandate.

The governor, meanwhile, has said there is a rule on the books about masks.

His emergency order requires everyone to follow the masking rules in the county in which they are in ― and says violators could face a citation if they don’t comply.

According to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, about 76% of Hawaii residents wear masks outside the home. The state Health Department says the figure is slightly higher for Oahu and a bit lower on the Neighbor Islands. Maui County had the lowest rate of mask wearing at 74%.

Still, that’s much higher than the US average of 49%.

The figure researchers recommend a population get to: 95%.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, has said widespread mask wearing could dramatically curb the spread of COVID-19 in the United States.

In recent weeks, there has been growing concern about a lack of mask wearing in Waikiki ― as more visitors from the mainland arrive through the state’s pre-travel testing program.

At a recent news conference, Hawaii Tourism Authority President and CEO John De Fries said he was “shocked” to see so many ― residents and visitors ― not wearing masks in recent visit to Waikiki.

“This is the law. This is not a guideline,” he said. “We need to get a handle on this and we need to get a handle on it immediately.”

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