Plan to keep a mask on this holiday season


HONOLULU (KHON2) — Wearing a mask in between Thanksgiving dinner courses may seem unnatural and even awkward, but doctors say it is among the best practices to follow during the coronavirus pandemic, especially if people who are outside a person’s bubble join the dinner table.

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Hawaii’s Lt. Governor Josh Green says the spread of COVID-19 is still driven by residents and no so much the increasing number of visitors entering the state.

“When we go back to work, when we’re back together, when we’re out and about there will be spread just like anywhere,” Green said. “So we have to be mindful of that and that’s going to definitely have an impact when we go into the holidays.”  

The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) released a set of best practices for holiday gatherings.

The guide recommends holding dinners outdoors or leaving doors and windows open if the gathering happens inside a home. DOH says people should also consider advising those who are more at risk of contracting the virus to keep a mask on at all times — except to eat or drink.

“If there’s someone in the family that is immune-compromised, let’s say they’re going through treatment for cancer or if they are very elderly, make sure that people who are at higher risk of spreading to them are distanced from them and wearing a mask,” said Green.

The department is also recommending keeping dinners short this year. The City and County of Honolulu limits gatherings to five people under tier Two, but each county is different.

“We’re hopeful that we could keep the numbers down,” Green said. “We can have a little bit more fun over Christmas and then I’m very optimistic about the Spring as long as we do what’s necessary with prevention.”  

Meanwhile, Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell insists that the Hawaii State Legislature meet for a special session to change penalties on mask wearing. Currently, penalties for not wearing masks involve a misdemeanor charge and up to one year in jail. Caldwell said these actions could backlog the judicial system.

“Amend the statue to allow a not such a draconian fine, make it like a traffic infraction, $100 fine if you are not wearing your mask after warning.”

Kirk Caldwell, Honolulu Mayor

The Hawaii State House has not yet indicated plans to hold a special session. The Hawaii State Senate, on the other hand, is set to meet next week, but it will be to approve judges. A mask discussion is not included in the agenda.

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