Hawaii sets a date for ending mask mandate, becoming the last state to do so
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii’s indoor mask mandate will be dropped at 11:59 p.m. on March 25 ― when the state’s emergency proclamation for COVID expires ― the governor announced Tuesday. But officials stressed that masks won’t be going away entirely.
The mandate was the last major COVID restriction with no end date and its expiration represents a major milestone in the state’s move to a new phase in the pandemic that seeks to “live with the virus.”
At a new conference Tuesday, Gov. David Ige said he was dropping the mask rule because cases are trending way down and the vaccination rate is high.
“We’re committed to moving the state forward and learning to live with COVID,” Ige said.
He added that he’s “ready to reinstate the mask policy if cases should surge.”
In announcing the end of the mask mandate, Ige and state Health Department officials also stressed that masks wouldn’t be going away entirely. They are likely to still be required in public schools, prisons and jails, city buses, and airports. Private businesses are also within their rights to require masks.
Hawaii was the only state in the nation with an indoor mask mandate still in place. The state instituted its first mask mandate in April 2020, and for many months required them both indoors and outdoors.
Separately, on Tuesday morning, the state Education Department announced that outdoor masking would no longer be required at public school campuses for students, faculty and staff.
The new rule is effective Wednesday and means that public school kids no longer have to wear masks at recess or when they’re walking between classes outdoors.
When asked why the state’s indoor mask mandate wasn’t being dropped immediately, Ige said he was seeking to be “prudent.”
He added, “We continue to see case counts in the community.”
Also on March 25, the state will drop its Safe Travels rules.
Under Safe Travels, domestic trans-Pacific arrivals must show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test in order to bypass a 10-day quarantine.
Meanwhile, the counties have dropped all their COVID restrictions.
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.
Copyright 2022 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.