WATCH: Customer throws fit at Honolulu spa over mask rule, accuses them of discrimination

The law gives companies the right to protect their workers, and more businesses might bring back masking rules now that new COVID variants are emerging.
Published: Jul. 12, 2022 at 10:45 PM HST|Updated: Jul. 13, 2022 at 12:28 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Indoor mask requirements have been lifted, but companies can still require customers to wear masks.

Business experts are underscoring the law following a worrisome exchange recently at a Honolulu spa.

Kacey Morichika, assistant manager of European Wax Center on Kapiolani Boulevard, said a man seeking eyebrow services refused to wear a mask on Saturday.

“I’ve never had anyone get violent over not wanting to wear the mask,” said Morichika.

Although indoor mask mandates were lifted in March, city rules still allow companies to require customers to wear face coverings.

Morichika said they require them because of close contact, but she said the man accused the business of discrimination.

“He ended up flinging our desk supplies down, he broke our little stamp card that we need to validate parking for our garage,” Morichika said. “He threw our card reader at the computer and he left.”

Tina Yamaki, president of Retail Merchants of Hawaii said incidents like this have been going on since the beginning of the pandemic.

“There’s a lot of people out there who just feel that they’re entitled,” said Yamaki. “If I yell at you and I become belligerent and just in your face, you’re going to do what I tell you to do.”

“And that’s still not the aloha spirit here,” Yamaki added.

While most people got used to masking over the past two years, the tension may be increasing again now that two new Omicron subvariants are on the rise.

The CDC says BA.5 subvariant accounted for 65% of the country’s new cases last week. The BA.4 subvariant accounted for 16%.

Epidemiologist DeWolfe Miller said they are both more infectious than the previous strains and masking helps.

“It’s not just that you’re protecting yourself from infection, on an airplane, in our island or like in an elevator,” said Miller. “But there’s a period in the virus infection, in a person that can be completely asymptomatic, the person just doesn’t know they have it yet.

The owner of the wax center said they plan to press charges and will continue to enforce masking rules.

“Businesses, especially retailers have the right to refuse service. It’s the whole thing, no shirt, no shoes, no service,” Yamaki said.

Hawaii News Now reached out to the man seen in the surveillance video and is waiting for a response.

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