Big Island Coronavirus Updates

Mask Requirements for Keiki During COVID-19 Pandemic Explained

May 16, 2020, 4:19 PM HST
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Malika Dudley, chief meteorologist for Pacific Media Group and freelance reporter, put together a public service announcement for businesses and parents to talk about face coverings for children amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

There still seems to be a lot of confusion on the issue, Dudley said. Reports of parents with unmasked children being turned away from entering post offices, local restaurants, grocery stores and retail businesses are not uncommon.

Crystal Akana is a mother of two young children. She shared her experience entering a mom and pop shop in Kahuku.

“I was wearing a mask. My kids weren’t. We were the only ones in the store,” Akana said. “The manager approached me and asked if my kids had a mask. And I said, ‘No, they’re under 5 and they don’t need one.”

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The store owner told Akana her children needed masks and that the store was selling them.

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“My three year old has asthma, she doesn’t need to wear a mask,” Akana said. “We didn’t buy anything and we just left the store. I think a lot of people are confused with this.”

The current mandate in Hawai‘i states that all customers shall wear face coverings as outlined by the CDC, but there are some important exceptions.

Lieutenant Governor Josh Green shared his medical advice on the topic.

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“The CDC has not recommended masks for kids under 2. It’s dangerous,” Green said. “Their airways are not mature enough to be able to be safe when you put something very close over their nose and mouth. In our state of Hawai‘i, the recommendation is (children under the age of 5) don’t need masks. We have not had significant disease in our young people here in Hawai‘i. Please don’t be worried.”

Maui firefighter, Pito Javier, and other first responders also hope to remind the public of one thing.

“Please remember, regardless of the CDC’s mask recommendations, your keiki are still safer at home,” Javier said.

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