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Governor keeps Hawaii’s mask mandate in place despite new CDC guidance for vaccinated people

Updated: May. 14, 2021 at 5:13 AM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Gov. David Ige is bucking CDC guidance on mask wearing for fully vaccinated residents, saying he’ll keep his mask mandate in place for now.

“We are in the process of reviewing those changes in the guidelines and will be announcing appropriate adjustments as we move forward,” Ige said, in a news conference on Thursday afternoon.

“The state mask mandate continues to be in force. ... We will continue to enforce the mask mandate.”

The governor also acknowledged that while it “may be OK and safe” for vaccinated individuals to forgo a mask in public, keeping the mandate in place benefits the broader community.

At one point, he indicated he would support requiring masks until up to 70% to 80% of Hawaii is vaccinated, but later walked that back saying the state doesn’t have a “hard and fast cutoff.”

The governor said he made the decision because it’s impossible to determine who is and isn’t vaccinated. He also noted that 40% of Hawaii’s residents are fully vaccinated. While Hawaii leads the nation in vaccinations, the governor noted the figure is still a minority of the population.

[Related coverage: ‘Great day for America’: Vaccinated can largely ditch masks]

“Our children haven’t been vaccinated,” he said.

The governor’s sentiments are in stark contrast to national trends ― and in opposition to Lt. Gov. Josh Green’s own opinion on the issue.

Green told Hawaii News Now on Thursday morning that he believes the state’s mask mandate should be lifted for fully vaccinated residents.

Lifting the mandate, he said, is “part of the process to return to normalcy and to trust the vaccines. It will have an impact as we go forward in having people do the right thing.”

He added, “I think the state should adopt that because we believe in science.”

The CDC on Thursday said fully vaccinated people can stop wearing masks outdoors and in most indoor settings. Exceptions include crowded indoor settings like planes, buses, and homeless shelters.

The new CDC guidance was celebrated by many Thursday, including President Joe Biden.

“Today is a great day for America,” President Joe Biden said during a Rose Garden address heralding the new guidance, an event where he and his staff went without masks.

“If you are fully vaccinated, you no longer need to wear a mask,” Biden added, in his address.

On Oahu, opinions on the new guidance was mixed.

“There’s lot of people on different sides of the issue. Personally, I’ve been vaccinated so I like the fact that I don’t have to wear a mask,” said Aina Haina resident Rick Tune.

But Taylor Vitarelli, of Makiki, said it’s too soon to ditch masks.

“I think we should still wear masks because even though a lot of people are vaccinated some people dont have that opportunity,” she said.

When asked whether the dueling messages from the CDC and Hawaii were confusing, especially for visitors, the governor said education efforts continue.

In the wake of the CDC guidance Thursday, a number of states with mandates made changes to ease restrictions for vaccinated people.

Here’s a look at what mandates are on the books, according to AARP:

  • California: Vaccinated people exempt from mask mandate outdoors.
  • Colorado: Masks required only in counties with higher cases.
  • Connecticut: Vaccinated people exempt from mask mandate outdoors.
  • Delaware: Outdoor mask mandate is expected to lift May 21.
  • Hawaii: Mask mandate indoors and outdoors remains in place.
  • Illinois: Vaccinated people exempt from mask mandate outdoors.
  • Kentucky: Vaccinated people exempt from mask mandate outdoors.
  • Maine: Vaccinated people exempt from mask mandate outdoors.
  • Maryland: In all indoor places masks are still required. They’re also required outside at large ticketed venues. The mask order will lift when 70% of state has one dose.
  • Massachusetts: Masks required outdoors when physical distancing not possible.
  • Michigan: Masks required in “most public settings.”
  • Minnesota: Masks required indoors and at large venues.
  • Nevada: Vaccinated people exempt from mask mandate outdoors.
  • New Jersey: Masks required indoors and outdoors when people can’t distance.
  • New Mexico: Masks required in public with some exceptions.
  • New York: Vaccinated people exempt from mask mandate outdoors.
  • North Carolina: Vaccinated people exempt from mask mandate outdoors.
  • Ohio: Masks required when people can’t distance.
  • Oregon: Vaccinated people exempt from mask mandate outdoors.
  • Pennsylvania: Vaccinated people exempt from mask mandate outdoors.
  • Rhode Island: Vaccinated people exempt from mask mandate outdoors.
  • Vermont: Vaccinated people exempt from mask mandate outdoors.
  • Virginia: Vaccinated people exempt from mask mandate outdoors.
  • Washington: Masks required indoors only, and mandate will end June 20.

This story will be updated.

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