HONOLULU(KHON2) — Make sure you have your protective mask or shield when you leave the house because wearing a non-surgical grade protective face covering is now required indoors and in outdoor areas where you are not able to social distance.

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said that even if it’s uncomfortable, you are still required to wear face coverings.

Caldwell signed the mandate which was approved by Governor David Ige and goes into effect on Oahu Friday.

“Whether you’re in a private office building, a public building, whether you’re in an enclosed mall, you must wear a face covering.””

The mandate also requires a mask outdoors, when social distancing isn’t possible.

There are exceptions. Children under the age of five are not required to wear a mask.

A mask is not required if you’re jogging or walking your dog outside and can stay six feet away from others, or if you’re inside a financial institution or at the ATM.

Those with medical conditions are also excused but Caldwell said the order recommends they wear a face shield instead.

First responders are also excempt if a mask hampers their ability to do their job.

The rule goes into effect July 3rd, just in time for the holiday weekend. Officials have raised concerns COVID-19 cases would increase due to 4th of July celebrations.

The city infectious disease officer, Dr. Jill Omori, said it’s important to wear a mask because up to 40 percent of people can spread COVID-19 without showing any symptoms.

“If 100 percent of everyone actually wore face masks, it would prevent much more spread than the strictest lock downs,” said Omori.

“We can live with COVID-19, we can continue to thaw out our economy and open up our community but we need to do it responsibly and that means each of us individually takes action,” Caldwell said.

Caldwell said although he doesn’t want to have to enforce this mandate, there may be consequences if people blatantly disregard the rules.

“It’s my hope that most everyone will comply. Where they don’t comply, the HPD can give warnings, can give citations and can arrest them. Just like all the other mandates it’s a misdemeanor and up to a $5,000 fine.”

He also hopes people understand this mandate is not meant to infringe on their rights, but to protect the health of the community as a whole.

“I know some may say requiring a mandate to wear face coverings everywhere and outdoors if you can’t practice social distancing is an impact on those rights. At the same time, I believe in our country, for sure here in Honoluu, we do care about each other and want to make sure everyone is safe. And we want to make sure we can continue to go about our lives in the most free way possible and that is by wearing face coverings now.”

Becasue, Caldwell warned, that if we lose control of things and the numbers get too high we could end up back where we were in the dark days of March.

This directive is outlined in an amended Order 5:

“The amended Order 5: Non-Medical Grade Face Coverings now requires everyone on O‘ahu to wear non-medical grade face coverings over their noses and mouths at indoor public spaces, like Essential Business and Designated Businesses and Operations, as well as outdoor areas where physical distancing is unlikely or difficult to maintain.”

According to the City, face coverings under this order may not be worn only under the following circumstances:

  • Within banks, financial institutions, or using automated teller machines where the inability to verify the identity of the customer or visitor of the bank, financial institution or automated teller machine poses a security risk;
  • By individuals with medical conditions or disabilities where the wearing of a face covering may pose a health or safety risk to the individual;
  • By individuals engaging in physical activity outdoors where physical distancing can be maintained (e.g., walking, jogging, hiking, etc.)
  • By children under the age of 5;
  • By first responders (Honolulu Police Department, Honolulu Fire Department, Honolulu Emergency Services Department) to the extent that wearing nonmedical grade face coverings may impair or impede the safety of the first responder in the performance of his/her duty;
  • By children in childcare, educational, and similar facilities consistent with the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) for such facilities;
  • As allowed by another provision of this Order. The wearing of face coverings under this Order is intended to complement, not serve as a substitute, for physical distancing and cleanliness.

Face coverings will not be required if an individual has no engagement or interaction with anyone else (e.g. working alone at an office desk). Officials say that if you are unable to wear a non-medical grade face-covering due to medical conditions or disabilities where the wearing of a face-covering may pose a health or safety risk to the individual, a face shield should be worn instead.

“Non-medical grade face covering” or “face covering” as used in this Order, means a tightly woven fabric without holes that is secured to the head with either ties or straps, or simply wrapped and tied around the wearer’s nose and mouth. 

To ask a question, residents can call the 768-CITY (2489) information hotline or email covidresponse@honolulu.gov.