Ige wants to keep the mask mandate. Green says it’s time to drop it.

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Published: Jul. 9, 2021 at 5:39 PM HST|Updated: Jul. 9, 2021 at 5:54 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - It’s time.

In an interview with HNN, Lt. Gov. Josh Green urged the governor on Friday to lift the state’s mask mandate. He says that wearing a mask should still be recommended for unvaccinated people, but not required by law ― under a policy of trust followed by other states.

“I would prefer that we lift the mask mandate if you are vaccinated. I think it’s about time,” said Green.

“The governor is very conservative and cautious but the science now dictates that we can take these decisions and move forward.”

Some 58.1% of Hawaii’s population is fully vaccinated. The state’s seven-day average is 43 COVID cases and currently 47 people are hospitalized with COVID-19.

Green says Hawaii has done better than any other state with some of the lowest case counts, mortality and one of the top vaccination rates in the country.

He says the vaccines work and those who don’t get it are putting themselves at risk.

“They are going to be the ones catching COVID so I don’t think it’s appropriate to hold everyone else hostage if they’ve gone the extra mile to get vaccinated,” he said.

In an email, a spokeswoman for Gov. David Ige said he’s not being overly cautious.

“The Delta variant is still a concern and children 11 and under are not yet eligible to be vaccinated,” said spokeswoman Jodi Leong.

When asked if the governor was considering lifting more restrictions before 70% of Hawaii is fully vaccinated, he said the benchmark is not the only consideration.

“COVID case counts, hospitalizations and other factors are considered,” she said.

“The governor, the Department of Health and the county mayors are in constant discussions about restrictions and proposed adjustments where appropriate.”

At Sun Yoga in Aina Haina, students wear a mask even when the rooms heats up to more than 100 degrees. That’s keeping some people from returning to class.

“Especially in hot yoga, it’s really hard to practice with the mask,” said owner Michele Santos.

She took a hot yoga class in California recently and says it felt free to be maskless. She says with rising vaccinations in Hawaii, a mask should be a choice.

“It was different. It was like, wow! You guys. It’s free,” said Santos.

Ige lifted the outdoor mask mandate at the end of May, but a look at Downtown Honolulu shows many people are still wearing them for their own reasons.

“I continue to wear the mask and to respect other people too,” said resident Inez Velasquez.

“We are just being cautious because we don’t know who’s vaccinated and who’s not,” added resident Grace Sherwin.

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