Hawaii Governor announces state will maintain mask rules

In a rejection of the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) guidance, Hawaii Governor David Ige announced Thursday that the state will continue to require masks when within six feet of people who aren’t a member of their household.

 

Get the latest state-specific policy intelligence for the health care sector delivered to your inbox.

 

Ige said in a press conference he doesn’t feel comfortable easing the mask mandate with only 40% of Hawaii’s population vaccinated. 

“At this point in time with the majority of our community not vaccinated, and we are not able to determine whether someone is vaccinated or not, we will continue to maintain the mask mandate here in the state of Hawaii. The challenge is it’s impossible to determine who’s vaccinated and who’s not vaccinated.”

Ige credited the state’s mask mandate for keeping case counts low during the pandemic.

Ige’s announcement comes after the CDC said people who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 don’t need to wear masks or practice social distancing indoors or outdoors, with some exceptions being during travel and when using public transit.

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said people with compromised immune systems should consult with their doctors before foregoing a mask.

Ige acknowledged the continuation of the mandate might cause some confusion, especially among tourists who are beginning to come back to the state. 

“We have also reached out to our travel partners, the airlines and hotels to ask them to redouble efforts to ask travelers to be respectful of our rules and regulations and to remind them that there continues to be a mask mandate in the state of Hawaii.”

Although eligibility expanded to include children as young as 12 this week, most children are not yet eligible for the vaccine. People are considered fully vaccinated two-weeks after their final dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.