Medical exemptions for public transportation allowed, but physician cautions against it

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) — A Presidential Executive Order and new Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Regulations now requires all US passengers to wear a mask while riding public transportation.  The City says it is adding a few requirements of its own as part of the new policy.

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Starting Monday, Feb. 15, the City will require public transportation users who ride TheBus and TheHandi-Van to wear a face mask while waiting at a transit center.

The following types of masks will be acceptable under the new policy:

  • Double/Triple Layer Cloth Mask
  • Disposable Mask
  • Two-layer Gaiter

The following types of masks will be unacceptable under the new policy:

  • Shirt pulled over face of wearer
  • Bandana/Scarf
  • Mask with vents, vales, holes
  • Face Shield Only (allowed with valid medical exemption card)

Those who think they are medically exempt can apply for an exemption card from the city, but a physician urges people with those type of conditions to stay home.

“People who can’t tolerate wearing masks, like people needing oxygen support, should limit their amount of exposure out,” Dr. Alan Wu of Doctors of Waikiki said.

People who fall into this category might have COPD, emphysema, severe asthma, or lung cancer among others.

Dr. Wu says these types of individuals are already at a high risk of COVID-19 and in a crowded space like TheBus, a face shield won’t do much.

“They get a big shield over it, but remember, you still have open air that can be transmittable,” Dr. Wu said.

City officials say children under two years old will be exempt from wearing masks.

Dr. Wu says that fit is important when finding masks for those two and over.

“We have a lot of keiki, making sure that they have the right size that covers that face entirely,” Dr. Wu said.

Medical exemptions will require proof of a valid NO MASK/FACE SHIELD-ONLY card, provided by the City. To apply for a medical exemption card, click here or call 848-5555 (press option 3).

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