Gov. David Ige said that his administration is pursuing a change to the state law to update the violation of the mask mandate from a misdemeanor offense to a ticket and fine.
However, Ige said it is unlikely that he will call a special session to get it done before the state Legislature begins its regular session in January. Ige does not have the legal authority to make the change on his own via emergency proclamation.
“We definitely would do it next session; The question is whether we want to accelerate that timetable and call the legislature back,” Ige said this morning on Spotlight Hawaii.
Given the timing, Ige said he is inclined to wait for the regular session, though he hopes to put the measure on an expedited track, which he thinks move through the process relatively quickly.
“The bigger challenge is just about all the logistics that would be involved with implementing a process for citations and all of that. The law itself could actually probably be passed in a month, maybe four weeks, if both the House and the Senate would agree. And I think in our conversations they do, both the Senate President and the House Speaker believe that we should have another option, the ability to assess a fine,” Ige said.
Ige discussed the Safe Travels program, which he said is going well and that more travelers than expected are coming to Hawaii and taking a pre-test before arrival. He said the state is continuing to work getting the word out to visitors that they must wear masks and practice social distancing, through advertising via hotels and airlines.
Ige also said the $500 Hawaii Restaurant Card program is helping those who are unemployed and local restaurant workers. Ige encouraged local business owners to apply for business pivot grants, which can provide training and consultant resources for businesses to adjust their operations, along with reimbursements of up to $10,000 to help companies adjust to the new economic environment.
Ige thanked the community for scaling back Halloween celebrations and said that he expects that people will have to make similar adjustments for the rest of the holiday seasons.
“We have to limit the spread of the virus and that means wearing a mask whenever you interact with people, washing your hands, staying home when you’re sick. All of those things we need to continue to do, and change what we do for our holidays because in-person celebrations with tens or twenties of people are just not allowed right now,” he said.
Ige continued, “So organizing virtual Thanksgiving celebrations and holiday celebrations would become the new norm if we want to get our economy restarted again.”
Spotlight Hawaii, which shines a light on issues affecting Hawaii, airs live 10:30 a.m. every Monday, Wednesday and Friday on the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s Facebook page. Join Ryan Kalei Tsuji and Yunji de Nies this month for a conversation with guests. Click here to watch previous conversations.