Businesses happy about mask mandate change

WAILUKU – A number of businesses are looking forward to the state’s plan to lift mask-wearing requirements indoors on March 26.

The latest decision by Hawaiʻi Gov. David Ige on March 8 comes at a time when the number of COVID cases have decreased significantly since January.

“We’re really loving it. We think it’s time to get the mask off our people,” said Peter Merriman of Merriman’s restaurants.

Merriman, who operates 10 restaurants statewide, said at the same time, he has no objections for people to wear masks, if they’re feeling a bit ill or living with a person who’s at risk.

Blue Ginger clothing store general manager Janet Kugeler said she’s spoken with some employees who are really excited but she knows not everyone feels the same about lifting the mask mandate.

“We do have some women who will continue to wear it,” she said.

Amigo’s restaurant day manager Darla Johnson said the employees “are aces about it” and she doesn’t know why they should wait for March 26.

Meanwhile, the state still strongly recommends people consider continue wearing masks in a number of areas, including schools, hospitals, health care facilities, long-term care facilities, and indoor areas with large congregations of people.

According to state health statistics, COVID cases have decreased from 26,662 for the period of Jan. 10-16, to 1,092 cases for the same weekly period in March.

Similarly, the number of deaths from COVID decreased from 21 in the period of Jan. 10-16, compared to 14 deaths in the same period for March.

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