Mask mandate lifts on Hawai‘i

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Kanani Silva, left, and Kiani Silva, right, choose to wear face masks, while Kellin Vea, center, prefers to be free of the face mask Saturday while picking up items from the Agriculture Week celebration at Kukui Grove Center in Lihu‘e.

LIHU‘E — Most Kaua‘i businesses polled by The Garden Island haven’t established private indoor mask mandates, after state requirements ended at 11:59 p.m. Friday.

“We just follow whatever the mandates are, so it’s not mandatory, but we leave it optional for guests and employees,” General Manager Darin Tann of Keoki’s Paradise restaurant in Po‘ipu said in a recent interview.

Tann’s remarks were in line with comments made by other managers and owners.

North Shore music shop Hanalei Strings and the Westside’s Talk Story Bookstore won’t require their patrons to mask up before entering their shops.

“We’re kind of relaxing things. People are still wearing masks. My employees have their own choice,” Hanalei Strings’ Kirk Smart said.

Hawai‘i was the last state in the U.S. to end its statewide mask mandate. Smart took no issue with the policy.

“This is kind of unprecedented, and everybody handled it the best they could,” he said.

Other businesses took a different approach.

Clients of Peter Nguyen of Lihu‘e Nail Spa in Nawiliwili’s Harbor Mall must still wear face masks. But Nguyen disagreed with the state mandate.

“It should be up to the people,” he said. “This is my private business, so I don’t need the government to tell me what to do.”

Blue Wave Tattoo, another business in Harbor Mall, requires clients to wear face masks or present proof of vaccination.

Tattoo shop owner John Beechly approved of Gov. David Ige’s emergency measures, and is comfortable with the state’s decision to eliminate them.

“With the hospitalizations being so low and the case numbers going down so fast, I don’t think it’s necessary anymore,” he said.

Hawai‘i experienced a statewide average of 87 new cases of COVID-19 per day between March 12 and 18, according to the most recent available state data, and 26 are currently hospitalized due to the coronavirus (two occupy intensive-care-unit beds).

Beechly will continue to wear a face mask in public spaces like grocery stores.

“It’s just courteous,” Beechly explained. “It shows aloha.”

The island’s Big Save, Times and Safeway supermarkets, as well as Costco and Target, no longer require customers to wear masks while shopping.

Lihu‘e Walmart personnel were unable to comment on their store’s policy. The retail corporation’s mainland media-relations office did not respond to The Garden Island by press time.

Managers at several stores noted customers are welcome to continue wearing masks should they choose.

Ige warned the pandemic is not over in a message published days before the state’s mask restrictions lifted.

“If your business serves customers who would be protected by continued mask use, or you would feel more comfortable enforcing your own mask requirements, please note that businesses have the right to create their own rules to ensure safety for both their customers and their workers,” Ige wrote.


Scott Yunker, reporter, can be reached at 245-0437 or

  1. Daniel Loeffler March 29, 2022 8:42 am Reply

    This is a Big mistake with the BA-2 variant now in Hawaii! Within 3 weeks we will have to re-empose the mask mandate and one again the credibility of our reversals will lead to confusion and mistrust!

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