County Mayors say new statewide mask mandate will continue to be hard to enforce

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) —  Governor David Ige issued an emergency proclamation on Monday, extending and clarifying the statewide mandate requiring face coverings to be worn in public.

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“What is in this Emergency Proclamation, the 15th, is very plain and simple. It requires all persons in the state to wear a face mask, covering your nose and mouth whenever you’re in public, period,” Governor Ige said.

There are some exceptions. Those with medical conditions, children under five and individuals who are outdoors and at least six feet from others are not required to wear a mask.

Some say this statewide mandate falls short and is hard to enforce.

County mayors have urged the state to implement the mask mandate to include enforcement of fines for violators, but that requires the state legislature to go into a special session, which state officials say is unlikely. The only option being considered now is to change the law when the legislative session resumes in January of 2021.

But Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell says that option may be too little too late. The Mayor is afraid lawmakers would not be able to approve it until the end of the session in May.

“I’m hoping that six months from now or seven months from now there’ll be a vaccine widely distributed. That’s my hope and it won’t be necessary for a mask. We need it now so that people can be fined immediately and they can send their check in and not violate the law again,” Caldwell said.

Violators of the mask mandate face different repercussions across each county, making it hard for police officers to properly enforce.

“There’s been some push back against them and they’re just enforcing the law equally against everyone who fails to comply with the law. Without that enforcement, you won’t get that compliance that’s necessary to protect all of us,” said Caldwell.

“It’s our county law enforcement officers that are out there, our prosecuting attorneys that are out there and we need to get something that actually works,” added Kauai Mayor Derek Kawakami.

Both county mayors say having the same exceptions for all counties would be helpful because it can help avoid some of the confusion surrounding the mask mandate.

“People that are saying that it’s very confusing, well let’s simplify it for you so it’s not so confusing. I think for visitors coming in, it could help,” said Kawakami.

“I think there are some efforts to tighten it up, strengthen it and also address some of the ambiguity that’s in the different county mandates right now,” added Caldwell.

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