The Mask Up for Maui County initiative — launched last week to increase face mask usage throughout the county — is well underway, according to Mayor Michael Victorino.
The initiative enlists the help of volunteer community ambassadors who will remind visitors and residents that face masks are mandatory throughout Maui County.
Volunteers will approach unmasked individuals with a copy of Maui County’s Public Health Emergency Rules to explain that mask-wearing is required in all public areas of Maui, Molokai or Lanai, and offer complimentary masks.
Maui County used CARES Act funds to purchase 80,000, two-layered face masks to give away.
Under Hawaii rules, “all individuals shall wear face coverings over their noses and mouths when in public settings,” with a few exceptions, applicable to all four counties.
Under Maui County’s emergency rules, face masks must be worn outdoors when physical distance of 6 feet from other individuals not from the same household cannot be maintained at all times.
Face masks must be worn while walking to and from the pool or beach area, and may only be removed once the person is stationary and adequately separated.
Face coverings are also required “on sidewalks, hiking trails, and in parks and similar areas, unless actively engaged in strenuous outdoor physical activity” as long as adequate physical distancing is practiced.
At one point in mid-January, Maui County’s face mask wearing rate was a high as 96%, according to the state Health Department’s mask dash. The following week, it slipped to 88%, then 81% at the end of January.
According to the most recent data, Maui County’s face mask wearing rate the week of Feb. 7 was at 91%.
“Wearing face masks is one of the best ways to prevent exposure to new variants of COVID-19 and to protect one another while we wait for widespread vaccination,” said Victorino in a news release. “Throughout this entire health crisis, the community has come together to support one another and this is another example of that aloha spirit. We deeply appreciate the volunteers who have stepped up and we invite more to join the effort.”
The first Mask Up for Maui County volunteers are from LahainaTown Action Committee, Lahaina Restoration Foundation, Clean and Safe in Lahaina and Wailuku, security teams from Shops at Wailea and Lahaina Gateway, Hope Chapel in Kihei, Aunty Mopsy and the Protect Paia group, and Maui Police Department’s community police officers.
Any persons or organizations interested in joining the effort can call Community Liaison Alan Fukuyama from the Office of the Mayor at 270-8299.