Hawaii Quarantine Kapu Breakers say mask wearing an issue in tourist areas

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) — Face coverings are a big part of our lives now.

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Officials continue to stress the importance of wearing them. But some say the message doesn’t seem to be getting through to some of our visitors.

The owner of Hawaii Quarantine Kapu Breakers tells us when news that a more contagious variant reached the state, she noticed an uptick in their membership with questions about masks. The FaceBook group has been bringing awareness to issues that involve quarantine for travelers and the mask mandate through their social media page.

“The reporting about the masks has gone haywire the last week, especially,” said Hawaii Quarantine Kapu Breakers owner Angela Keen. “Within the last 48 to 72 hours, we’ve had some posts that kind of went viral.”

Keen tells us in tourist areas they’ve noticed fewer people wearing face masks. She recommended to the tourism industry that they need to have marketing reminders, including digital messaging, from the time visitors book their trip all the way through to their hotel.

“It needs to be everywhere,” said Keen. “We need to bombard them with this because they don’t get it. The problem now is a lot of local people have a distaste for tourists.”

The Hawaii Tourism Authority says their efforts start before tourists arrive.

“We’ve got pre-arrival educational activity going on,” said John De Fries of HTA. “Post-arrival when they arrive in Hawaii. That educational effort doesn’t stop. It’s happening at the airport, inside every hotel lobby. We just are going to have to intensify that because we are dealing with human behavioral change.”

The Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association says the mask mandate and other rules are a high priority within the hospitality industry.

“So I believe we’ve done a very good job in ensuring the when there are areas that we have kuleana over, for example, our properties,” said Mufi Hannemann of HLTA. “The challenge is when they leave the property, and they’re strolling. They’re going elsewhere, which is where sometimes that breakdown occurs.”

Hannemann also says it’s not fair to pin the problem on visitors as there are residents not wearing masks when they’re supposed to.

Dr. Lee Ellen Buenconsejo-Lum from the UH Medical School tells us she believes we’ll be wearing masks through 2021.

“We still have a long ways to go in terms of vaccinating and getting, you know, really towards 75%-80% of our population vaccinated,” said Dr. Buenconsejo-Lum.

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