Mask mandate leads to altercation at Maui restaurant; businesses are getting caught in the middle

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) — Hawaii is one of several states that still has a mask mandate in place despite the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) saying vaccinated people can be outside and indoors without one.

The conflicting rules caused a conflict on Maui over the weekend, and businesses are caught in the middle.

Hawaii is the only state with no official date to drop its mask mandate. Last week, Gov. David Ige told KHON2 that he was aiming for mid-June.

On Saturday, May 22, a 21-year-old Lahaina man was in an altercation with a family he believes were visitors waiting in line at the same restaurant.

“And the son and the father weren’t wearing a mask, so I asked them, ‘Do you guys have a mask?’ There’s a sign at the door, and Hawaii still has a mask mandate,” explained Lahaina resident Humberto Cardenas.

He said the family ignored him so he asked them again if they had masks.

“After that, the dad was like, ‘Do you work here?’ And I said no, and he said ‘Do you know who I am?’ I was like, no, but I live here, I pay taxes, I’m watching out for my community, you know?” Cardenas said.

He said one of the men in the family put their fingers on his chest, so Cardenas pushed him.

Cardenas alleges the family attacked him back by leaving him with a bloody eye.

Maui police arrived and issued warnings, but Cardenas believes more should have been done and said until the mandate is dropped, people should follow the rules.

On Oahu, several business owners in Kaimuki said they plan to keep their mask policies in place even if Ige drops the mandate.

“I just think it’s a safe thing until we know more, until we know 100% everyone is safe. I just think it’s a good idea and makes sense, and it doesn’t really hurt anyone,” said Coffee Talk owner Liz Schwartz.

She said businesses should make their own choice and said she will provide masks for people who don’t have one. She doesn’t mind if customers choose to eat and drink elsewhere.

“I think we’re all on the same page in terms of wanting to keep a safe community,” she said of the Kaimuki community.

“I think the hardest thing is figuring out who is and who isn’t vaccinated,” said Keep it Simple co-owner Hunter Long. She said once the announcement is made, she and her co-owner will see where the state is in terms of case numbers and other factors.

“We want all our customers to feel safe and comfortable shopping at our store, and if that means keeping the masks on, that’s what it’s going to have to be,” she continued.

Maui police said they encourage the public to call police for assistance and to not take matters into their own hands.

The Maui Police Department said it have issued nearly 800 citations for mask and COVID-19-related violations since January 1, 2021.

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