By Nina Wu • Today • Updated 8:00 am
Gov. David Ige announced Tuesday that Hawaii’s indoor mask mandate will sunset along with the state’s current emergency
proclamation for the COVID-19 pandemic at 11:59 p.m. March 25.
Hawaii is the last U.S. state to announce an end to its mask mandate after coronavirus cases nationwide dropped steeply. Ige cited the continuation of declining COVID-19 case counts and hospitalizations, along with better treatments, as motivation for his decision.
“Because people of Hawaii have been serious about this and other measures to prevent the spread of the virus,” said Ige, “we have reduced COVID-19 in Hawaii to the point where most of us will be safe without masks indoors.”
For more than two weeks, Hawaii had been the sole state without a confirmed end date for its statewide mask mandate despite new federal guidelines saying indoor mask-wearing was no longer required in low- and medium-risk communities.
Based on the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s new metrics, all of Hawaii is considered low-risk, and residents here do not need to wear masks. However, Ige warned that he would again impose the mask policy if COVID-19 cases rise dramatically.
“This is all promising, but we’ve seen previous progress wiped out by the delta or omicron variant, so I want to be very clear,” said Ige. “I will be ready to institute mask policy if COVID cases should surge. We are continuing to monitor the global, national and local situation and will take the actions necessary to ensure the integrity of our state’s health care system.”
On Tuesday the state Department of Health reported 63 more infections statewide, bringing Hawaii’s total since the start of the pandemic to 237,518 cases. No new deaths were reported, and the state’s COVID-19 death toll remained at 1,354.