Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell made fabric stores an essential business on Monday.

“So when I entered the order, the stay-at-home, work-from-home order back in March, we made it clear what was an essential business and what was not an essential business, and at that point, fabric stores were determined to be non-essential,” Mayor Kirk Caldwell explained.

However, when the mayor strongly recommended everyone wear cloth masks in public, long lines started forming at fabric stores still open.

“As this persisted, we made it clear to this store that was operating that it was non-essential and had to shut down,” Caldwell said.

When fabric stores were forced to close, those who have been sewing masks, like Pamela Medeiros-Mercado, got worried.

“I was like, ‘Oh no! What are we going to do?'” Medeiros-Mercado said.

She has been making cloth masks for those who need it free of charge.

“Because a lot of businesses require you to have a mask if you’re entering their business, like the grocery stores or other places, that’s why I think fabric stores should be essential cause that’s what we need to make the masks,” Medeiros-Mercado added.

On Monday, Mayor Kirk Caldwell announced the change to the fabric stores classification.

“We have looked at how can we open up fabric stores, so that people can come in and make masks,” Caldwell said during Monday’s press conference. “So I’m signing an order today that will make fabric stores essential on a limited basis.”

According to Mayor Kirk Caldwell, fabric stores are able to safely sell to its customers in three ways: Stores can offer online shopping, deliver fabric when cars pull up or permit up to two people inside at a time.

“We want to make sure that people on the island of Oahu have the ability to go to a fabric store,” the mayor explained about the decision.