Concerned residents point to sparse mask wearing at tourism hotspots

Concerned residents point to sparse mask wearing at tourism hotspots

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - HPD recently suspended their COVID enforcement teams, leaving many wondering who will enforce the rules.

Some say suspending HPD’s COVID enforcement teams this week comes at a bad time with Hawaii reopening to tourism, Thanksgiving approaching and a surge of COVID cases not only on the mainland, but here as well.

“With COVID surging we have about 150 cases today it goes up and down a little bit but boy I do not want to see a big surge after Thanksgiving,” said Lt. Gov. Josh Green.

Green said HPD is needed to help enforce the statewide mask mandate which was strengthened this week.

Meanwhile Kaile Wilson, whose father owns a condo on Ko’olina said many people are not following the mask or social distancing rules.

“So, we’ve had a surge in our building alone and every night I’ve seen about 15 to 20 people in the hot tub,” said Wilson. “At the coffee shop, there has been plenty [about] 40 people I would say outside like [not] spacing and there are probably 90% of them not wearing masks.”

Wilson adds that HPD responding to COVID complaints is not enough.

“I’m told to call HPD, [but] you can’t call HPD every time you see a single person not wearing a mask, you know, they laugh and joke that it’s kind of silly to call the police for that,” said Wilson. “And also put the mask on as soon as the cops are there and then they pull it off and walk away.”

Despite the suspension, HPD says they will still be responding to COVID complaints depending on the availability of on-duty officers.

Angela Keen, co-founder of Hawaii Quarantine Kapu Breakers said it’s always been this way.

One of the main concerns, Keen said they have been hearing is tourists not wearing masks in areas like Waikiki and Ko’olina.

Keen’s group is calling a special task force to crack down on large gatherings and people not wearing mask.

“Forget about HPD, let them fight their crime, get a separate task force with a few retired officers and some of our kapu breakers group volunteers,” said Keen. “We can do it on every Island, these officers need help [and] they can’t do it on their own.”

You can still reach HPD’s COVID hotline at 723-3900 to report any violators of the state’s emergency order.

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