HONOLULU (KHON2) — Gov. David Ige on Tuesday announced that masks are no longer required outdoors, regardless of vaccinations.
The change takes effect immediately, however, indoor rules remain the same.
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The change to the outdoor mask mandate comes following the news that Hawaii is among nine states that have given 70% of adult residents at least one shot against COVID-19.
Hawaii’s new mask rule applies to everyone whether vaccinated or not, unlike the CDC guidance. That is because it would be too difficult to check who has actually been vaccinated. Health officials say even those who are vaccinated should still wear a mask while in a crowd of more than 10 people.
“If you were going to go to an area where you know everybody there and you’re pretty sure that’s your friends and your family, they’ve been vaccinated, I think that’s a little different than if you’re in an environment where you’re around a lot of strangers in a very crowded area. I would definitely wear my mask,” said Dr. Libby Char, Hawaii Department of Health director.
As far as when the state plans to drop the mask mandate indoors — which the CDC has already recommended — that is still up in the air. For one thing, the state wants to see a higher percentage of the population fully vaccinated, which is at 49% as of May 25.
“We want to make sure that we have a good majority that’s vaccinated. We’re going to watch and see whether or not we’re going to see an influx of more virulent COVID. So it depends on how the pandemic unfolds in the next several weeks,” said Char.
The governor also announced that people who are fully vaccinated in Hawaii will be able to travel from the mainland without having to take a COVID test sometime in June. He says the state is in the process of upgrading its software in order to do that.
“Part of that upgrade would be accessing the state’s vaccination records in a way that protects everybody’s privacy,” said Gov. David Ige.
He adds that it would take longer for mainland residents to get that exception because the state is still working with other partners to verify vaccination records out of state.
“And as we make progress, we would be incorporating that into our Safe Travels program. We do expect to be able to do that later on this summer,” said Ige.
Gov. Ige told KHON2 in an exclusive interview that he was still targeting the Fourth of July to allow Trans-Pacific travel for vaccinated people without the need to be tested.
The governor continues discussions with Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi about changes to the tier system that incorporates vaccination rates. A proposal has not yet been submitted.