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Gov. Ige Says State Mask Mandate Will Remain in Effect

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Courtesy / State of Hawaii, Governor's Office
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Governor David Ige said Thursday the state’s current mask mandate will remain in effect for everyone, including for those who are fully vaccinated.

This comes after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Thursday that fully vaccinated adults can safely resume activities indoors or outdoors without masks or distancing, in gatherings large or small.

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky announced the new guidance.

"You can do things you stopped doing because of the pandemic," Walensky said.

The new policy is based on recent real-world studies from Israel and the U.S. on people who've been vaccinated, she said. In response to a question, Walensky said the federal mask requirement on public transportation remains in force for everyone, vaccinated or not – including on buses, trains, airplanes and in stations and airports.

The CDC said masks may still be required by state, local, tribal or territorial laws as well as businesses and workplaces. Unvaccinated people "remain at risk" of illness and death, Walensky said, and should remain masked and observe physical distancing.

Under the current state emergency proclamation, masks are required in Hawai‘i for indoor settings, but not while outside and physically distanced.

Ige said 40% of the state’s population is fully vaccinated and there are challenges associated with lifting the mandate. It is impossible to determine who is vaccinated and who is not, he said.

"If you look at the CDC guidance, it continues to say that wearing masks are important mitigation measure," Ige said. "The best-case scenario is everyone wearing a mask because it protects, not only the individual wearing the mask, it protects the community and it protects against the spread of the virus, especially for those who are not vaccinated."

He said his administration is always reviewing CDC guidance and adjusting as the state progresses.

"Our ability to enforce mandates and requirements are just an important part of how we decide to make adjustments," he said. "And clearly at this point in time, with the majority of our community not fully vaccinated--and we’re not able to determine whether someone is vaccinated or not--we will continue to maintain the mask mandate."

Ige said he is working with the county mayors and the Department of Health to incorporate vaccination rates into the tier systems. He is also working on setting specific targets with individual counties.

Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino said, "Hawaii’s four mayors have been working with Governor Ige and Lieutenant Governor Green on a statewide approach to mask mandates. The decision to rescind or maintain face-covering requirements for those who are fully vaccinated will be made by the governor at the appropriate time. The County of Maui will abide by this decision."

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