Hawaii makes mask-wearing mandatory in all public spaces statewide

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With coronavirus infection rates increasing across the U.S. and Hawaii remaining committed to the pretravel testing program it launched on Oct. 15, Gov. David Ige updated the state's mask mandate and emergency order.

In a Nov. 16 announcement and emergency proclamation, Ige made mask-wearing mandatory across the Aloha State in all public spaces; prior to this, the state had left the decision on when and where mask-wearing would be enforced up to the counties. The updated order also outlines new restrictions on hotels and other businesses.

The governor's emergency proclamation also requires that "an owner or operator of any business or operation shall refuse admission or service to any individual who fails to wear a face covering, unless an exception applies."

Ige first issued a statewide mask mandate on April 25, but the order allowed each county to set its own list of exemptions, which led to some confusion among the public. The governor said he conferred with the mayors of all four of the Hawaii counties prior to issuing his latest statewide proclamation.

Some exceptions to the masking rule still apply, but the regulations are now uniform across the state. Businesses that don't comply face fines and mandatory closure.

Under the latest emergency order, everyone in Hawaii must wear a mask covering their mouth and nose when in public. Exceptions to the rule are:

• Medical conditions or disabilities that face a health or safety risk by wearing a mask.
• Children under age 5.
• Eating, drinking and smoking, as permitted by applicable law.
• Travel via private automobiles, provided the only occupants are members of the same household.
• Services allowed under a state or county order, rule or proclamation that require access to that individual's nose or mouth.
• Situations involving security concerns, such as in financial institutions.
• Outdoors when a physical distance of six feet can be maintained at all times.

Additionally, the emergency order requires all hotels to implement a Covid-19 health and safety plan, including procedures for handling a guest who tests positive or is identified as a close contact of someone who is positive for coronavirus while staying at the property. Hotel operators are required to submit their plan to the Hawaii Tourism Authority and post it on their website.

After imposing a mandatory 14-day quarantine for all arrivals to the state in March, Hawaii launched its pretravel testing program on Oct. 15, which allows passengers who take a test from a state-approved provider within 72 hours of departure to skip quarantine if their result is negative.

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