Everyone over age 5 on Kauai must wear a cloth face mask during most activities while outside in public, according to a new county mandate that went into effect at 5 a.m. today.
Kauai County Mayor Derek Kawakami announced the new order at Monday’s daily briefing on COVID-19. Exceptions to the mandate include those exercising and entering a financial institution or using an ATM machine.
The order remains in effect through May 3. Violators face a misdemeanor charge that carries penalties of up to a $5,000 fine and up to one year in jail.
“As we’ve been emphasizing over the past week, masks are becoming a critical tool in the fight against COVID-19,” Kawakami said.
“Because our community has done such a great job in heeding our emergency rules, we have so far been able to keep our number of positive cases low. If we can continue to keep our numbers low and continue to contain community transmission, we want to slowly get people back to work in a way that minimizes risk,” he added.
There are 21 confirmed cases on Kauai as of Monday. Of those, 16 individuals have recovered or returned to their homes on the mainland. The five remaining cases are isle residents, three of which are in isolation at home, one is in isolation at a facility and one remains in isolation at a hospital.
Kawakami reminded the public to continue practicing social distancing, frequent hand-washing as well as cleaning shared surfaces.
In addition to the mask mandate, changes have been made to park operations to include closures of all swimming pools, park pavilions and playgrounds. General park areas will remain open as long as the public adheres to social distancing directives.
Five parks — Lucy Wright, Salt Pond, Lydgate, Anahola and Anini — has also been designated to shelter the homeless.
“Those in the current houseless community must now obtain a permit at no cost to shelter at those places for these parks,” Kawakami said.
“This permitting system helps us to meet the needs of our houseless community who must shelter in place while also helping to ensure social distancing for the health and well-being of all,” he said.
Kawakami stressed the permits are not available to anyone under the 14-day mandatory quarantine.
Hawaii County, meanwhile, is requesting the state to test all homeless and homeless program staff, according to Sharon Hirota, executive assistant to Mayor Harry Kim. The county is waiting for a response from the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency.
Hawaii island has a total of 39 confirmed cases as of today. Of those 28 individuals have recovered and the remaining 11 individuals are quarantined at home.