Big Island Coronavirus Updates

Kim Institutes Strict Face Mask, Hand Sanitizing Policies on Big Island

April 21, 2020, 4:39 PM HST
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Hawai‘i County Mayor Harry Kim. Photo: Chris Yoakum.

Hawai‘i County Mayor Harry Kim bolstered a state mandate to wear face masks in public with a county Rule of his own.

Kim on Tuesday issued a rule that mandates face masks or coverings for all customers of essential businesses aged 5 years and older and all employees who have contact with others to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The Mayor’s COVID-19 Emergency Rule No. 3 stipulates that all businesses shall disallow entry to anyone who refuses to wear a face mask or face coverings. Exemptions from wearing face masks are persons with health or medical conditions that prohibit the use of face masks or face coverings.

Rule 3 also calls for all customers to sanitize their hands at entry, and hand sanitizing stations must be set up in the customers’ path at the entrance.

The County’s COVID-19 Prevention and Education Task Force will be working with businesses to ensure compliance from their employees and customers, said Mayor Kim.

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“These are stricter than the governor’s rules because we want to make sure that our community stays healthy and safe,” the mayor said.

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Rule 3 was prompted, in part, after the recent outbreak of the virus among fast-food workers and their families in Kona.

“We want these rules to be in place while focusing on being reasonable so that people can make a living,” Mayor Kim said.

The Rule strongly recommends that one customer per 250 square feet be allowed into an establishment to ensure the six-foot distancing requirement and to increase social distancing.

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Rule 3 calls for businesses to discourage hoarding of essential supplies and mandates that businesses post signage and communicate special hours for high-risk populations.

Businesses that handle food production and consumption are to have employees use gloves while handling food, and employees who handle any payment transaction by cash or credit card must sanitize or change gloves before serving the next customer.

All businesses are required to assign, train and schedule employees to sanitize carts, conveyors, counters, handles, knobs and other common touch areas, the Rule says.

Employees must do a self-check prior to starting their shift to monitor for any COVID-19 symptoms. If an employee feels ill, they must immediately notify their supervisor and leave the premises.

Rule 3 stipulates that the employee must seek medical attention if symptoms persist and shall not return to work until symptom-free at a minimum of 72 hours. If an employee tests positive for the virus, they shall not return to work until staying home and being symptom-free for 14 days.

On the County’s Mass Transit buses, riders 5-years-old and older must wear face coverings or masks to prevent the spread of the virus, with exemptions for people with health or medical conditions that prohibit their use. Riders who refuse to wear a mask will not be allowed to board or enter the bus.

Violators of Rule 3 may be subject to a fine of up to $5,000 or one-year imprisonment, or both. The Rule remains effective throughout the pandemic emergency, or until terminated sooner by order of the mayor.

For further information, please contact Civil Defense at 808-935-0031.

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