HONOLULU (KHON2) — Restrictions at restaurants and bars will loosen up two weeks from now but the mask mandate may be around for a little while longer. The lieutenant governor said even after it’s lifted some people will likely continue to wear them.
After nearly two years of shutdowns, COVID restrictions and protective masks, life will finally start to look more like it did pre-pandemic in the coming weeks.
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Maui County will no longer require proof of vaccination for restaurants, bars and gyms starting Monday, Feb. 21.
Mayor Rick Blangiardi said Honolulu will see the same rules lifted less than two weeks later.
“On March 5, we’re going to drop the very last restriction in the city enforced under our last emergency proclamation, which is Safe Access Oahu,” Blangiardi explained. “That’s the only thing I can control in this situation.”
Lt. Gov. Josh Green said many other rules will likely change at the end of March.
“When we get to March 25, which is when the emergency proclamation expires, that would be a sensible time, as long as we’re still doing things well, to get rid of restrictions.”
But ultimately, that decision is up to Gov. Ige and the Hawaii Department of Health.
If Ige does not extend the emergency proclamation, Green said it will likely be the end of the Safe Travels program, which requires travelers to show proof of vaccination or a negative test to bypass quarantine.
It also impacts exemptions for things like extensions for licensing and processes for buying personal protection equipment (PPE).
Green said Ige may choose to make changes gradually.
“I think they would like to do it in small stages,” he said. “They’d like to reduce restrictions and manage schools, followed by managing changes at the travel level, and then finally at the mask level for all of our people.”
So don’t toss your protective masks just yet. Green said that will be the last thing to go.
Once the mandates are lifted, the health department may still offer safety suggestions for higher-risk individuals or those with underlying health conditions.
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“Healthcare guidance and good health care, leadership will replace mandates. That’s the most logical thing.”