Hawaii announced it will no longer require masks to be worn indoors on March 26.
The state has required masks for nearly two years. When the regulation was first introduced, masks were required both indoors and outdoors.
Governor David Ige said the state’s declining COVID-19 cases made it unnecessary to reinstate the mask mandate after the current emergency proclamation expires on March 25 at 11:59 P.M.
“Together, we have reduced COVID-19 in Hawai‘i to the point where most of us will be safe without masks indoors,” said Ige in his March 8 announcement. “Right now, hospitalizations are trending down. Case counts are falling. We are better at treating people who are infected. Booster shots are saving lives. And the CDC has rated the state’s COVID-19 community level as ‘low.’”
Ige added, “However, the state will be ready to reinstitute the mask policy if COVID case numbers surge.”
The state government will still recommend that masks be worn in schools, long-term care facilities, correctional facilities, hospitals, and other places where people live in close proximity.
Dr. Elizabeth Char, Hawaii’s Health Director, urged mask use as a preventative tool, especially “with people whose vaccination status is unknown.”
“Simple prevention practices will keep us moving in the right direction,” Char said.
Oregon and Washington’s indoor mask mandate will expire on March 11, making Hawaii the last state to repeal the COVID-19 practice.
The state’s only Republican senator, Kurt Fevella, acknowledged the governor’s logic regarding masks, but said his constituents were ready for the end of the policy.
“People would come up to me and tell me to take the diaper off my face,” Fevella said to AP News.
Hawaii is also planning to end its required quarantine periods for travelers on the same day it repeals its indoor mask mandate.
Starting on March 26, travelers will not need to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test to be exempted from the required five-day isolation period.
Hawaii’s Department of Health reports that the number of daily average cases has fallen from 307 on Feb. 21 to 148 on March 6. Almost 74% of the population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19.