HONOLULU (KHON2) — Governor David Ige admits that the state needs to send a stronger message about wearing masks. This, after some expressed frustration that there’s no clear communication sent out to the public.
Members of the House Select Committee on COVID-19 pointed out that there are still too many people that don’t know the rules, partly because the state’s own website doesn’t actually say that mask wearing is mandatory.
With thousands of visitors arriving daily, there are more complaints that tourists aren’t complying.
“Because what we’re seeing is the tourists come to the stores, they walk out, they take off their masks or they’re not even wearing masks because they say in our state, we don’t have to do that,” said Tina Yamaki, president of Retail Merchants of Hawaii.
“We can do a better job of that. We have issued a statewide mask order,” said Ige.
But economist Carl Bonham points out that in the hawaiicovid19.com website it only says, “It’s recommended to wear a mask at all times.”
“I know we’re trying to be polite but recommending that we wear a mask is not the same thing as saying you must wear a mask,” said Bonham.
The state website also refers to the different county websites for specific protocols.
“When I go to the City and County of Honolulu’s website, I can’t find the rules. You have to read the Emergency Proclamations to find the rules. So I think we’re still failing on the communications front, both for residents and for tourists,” said Bonham.
He says mask wearing rules should be at the top of every website, and make them precisely clear. Because at this point, he says the stakes are higher than ever, and the state cannot afford to go back to more COVID restrictions.
“So you need clear policy and you need to make the statement incredibly clear and they need to be prominent on the county website, so that visitors and locals can easily find the information about what’s expected,” said Bonham.
“I’ll make sure that I send that over to the Hawaii COVID-19 website webmasters to make it clear that it’s a requirement,” said Ige.