Question: I believe the mayor made it clear that masks are required “when in public — period.” On Saturday morning while attempting to walk in Kailua and Lanikai beach fronts, I encountered more than 95% of the people unmasked. I was so disgusted by the blatant disregard for the health rules that I ended my walk to protect myself. Am I missing something here?
Answer: Yes. The mask mandate is not as strict as you recall. There are exceptions, including when outdoors if a distance of 6 feet is maintained from people not in your household. If the unmasked people you saw kept at least 6 feet away from you, they weren’t breaking the rules. However, if they were less than 6 feet away at any point, they were in violation. This is why people should carry a mask with them at all times, even while exercising outdoors, so they can quickly don the mask as needed.
Of course, there also are people who routinely wear masks, even outdoors when no one else is around, but that is not required by Hawaii’s statewide mask mandate, which Gov. David Ige clarified in his 15th emergency proclamation, issued Nov. 16. The verbiage carried over to his 16th proclamation, issued Nov. 23. See exhibit J in the proclamation, 808ne.ws/proc16.
Hawaii’s statewide mandate is in keeping with recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, which you can read at 808ne.ws/maskcdc.
We’ve heard from so many readers complaining about people not wearing masks that we’ll recap the basic rules and exceptions, which apply to Hawaii residents and visitors alike.
Regarding face coverings, commonly known as face masks, the proclamation says that “all individuals shall wear face coverings over their noses and mouths when in public settings,” with the following exceptions:
>> Individuals with medical conditions or disabilities that make wearing a face mask a health or safety risk
>> Children under age 5
>> “While working at a desk or work station and not actively engaged with other employees, customers, or visitors, provided that the individual’s desk or work station is not located in a common or shared area and physical distancing of at least six feet is maintained”
>> While eating, drinking or smoking as permitted by law
>> Inside private vehicles, as long as the occupants are from the same household/living unit/residence
>> While receiving allowable services that require access to the person’s nose or mouth
>> Where federal or state safety or health regulations, or a financial institution’s policy (based on security concerns), prohibit the wearing of facial coverings
>> While actively communicating with the hearing- impaired, for example, while “signing or lip reading”
>> First responders (police, firefighters, lifeguards, etc.) are exempt, “to the extent that wearing face coverings may impair or impede the safety of the first responder in the performance of his/her duty”
>> While outdoors when a physical distance of 6 feet from other individuals who are not members of the same household/living unit/residence can be maintained at all times
>> “As specifically allowed by a provision of a state or county COVID-19 related order, rule, or proclamation”
The proclamation emphasizes that the wearing of face masks is intended to complement, not replace, physical distancing, frequent hand-washing and other efforts to deter the spread of COVID-19.
Using numerous methods simultaneously is known as the “Swiss cheese model” of pandemic control: No single intervention thwarts the disease, but layered together, the multiple tactics are intended to create an impenetrable block of defense.
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