Gov. David Ige this afternoon announced that masks will no longer be required outdoors in Hawaii, effective immediately.
The amendment to the state’s emergency proclamation brings Hawaii’s mask mandate more in line with recent U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance, which says most Americans, particularly those who are fully vaccinated, do not need to wear a mask outdoors.
“Because we’ve made significant progress, I’ve signed an emergency proclamation making an amendment that will lift the mask mandate for while you are outdoors,” said Ige during today’s press conference. “This is effective immediately and statewide. You will not be required to wear a mask while outside. However, we do strongly encourage everyone when they are outside in large groups to continue to wear a mask.”
That, too, is in line with CDC guidance.
Ige said, however, that masks will still be required indoors, regardless of whether one is fully vaccinated or not.
“The virus is still circulating in our community and unvaccinated people are particularly at risk,” said Ige. “And until more are vaccinated, we must continue to take precautions indoors and in large groups because those actions are important to slow the spread of COVID-19.”
Also, Ige said starting June 1, the state is lifting its suspension of ocean sports competitions, including surfing, canoe paddling and swimming.
The state will resume issuing permits for ocean activities, he said, and counties will also be allowed to issue permits for the use of their parks.
“Permits will be issued, provided that public health and safety protocols are followed to protect our communities, contestants and spectators,” he said.
Furthermore, Ige said he approved a request by the City and County of Honolulu to allow other organized outdoor sports.
He also approved Kauai County to add two more tiers — Tier 5 and Tier 6 — to its current framework to further loosen restrictions triggered by COVID-19 vaccination rates.
Tier 5 would go into effect when 60% of Hawaii residents have been fully vaccinated, and Kauai’s seven-day average case count is less than 3 with a test positivity rate under 1%. Under Tier 5, group limits would be increased to 25 indoors and 75 outdoors, and the maximum capacity for businesses and activities would increase to 75%.
Tier 6 would go into effect once 70% of residents statewide are fully vaccinated, and would allow businesses and events to open at full capacity. All restrictions would be withdrawn.
“If our vaccination program is successful, I expect to make changes to the Safe Travels program next month,” he said. “The next step that we would pursue would be to provide a quarantine exception for trans-Pacific travelers who are vaccinated here in Hawaii.”
Fully vaccinated trans-Pacific travelers would be able to visit Hawaii without pre-travel testing or quarantine requirements. Ige said the state continues to work with third-party providers to verify vaccinations for travelers from other states.
“As more and more people are vaccinated, we will begin to use vaccination metrics for other policy decisions as we move forward,” said Ige.
On Tuesday, the Hawaii Department of Health reported 23 new confirmed and probable coronavirus infections, bringing the state’s total since the start of the pandemic to 35,924 cases.
Lt. Gov. Josh Green said new coronavirus case numbers are trending down in Hawaii as more residents get vaccinated.
He said 38 in the state are currently hospitalized with COVID-19, and that they tend to be younger people who do not get as critically ill. This is a huge improvement compared to last August, when more than 300 were hospitalized with COVID-19.
Today, he said more than 1.5 million doses of COVID-19 had been administered in the state, according to CDC statistics. If the state can reach 2 million doses, the state can ease more restrictions.
Ige and Green were joined by Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi, Maui Mayor Mike Victorino, Hawaii island Mayor Mitch Roth and DOH director Dr. Libby Char.
All encouraged Hawaii residents to get vaccinated for COVID-19 to keep the community safe, and allow the state to ease more restrictions.
Watch the press conference via the video above, or visit Gov. Ige’s Facebook page.