Gov. David Ige will maintain Hawaii’s mask mandate despite the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s updated guidelines on masks.
The CDC relaxed its guidance today saying that fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear masks indoors or outdoors, even in large gatherings. But Ige said during a press conference today that he isn’t willing to ease the state’s mask mandate just yet, noting that less than half of Hawaii residents are fully vaccinated and it’s not possible to tell who has and hasn’t been immunized.
The governor suggested that the point when the community reaches herd immunity is a better point at which to do away with masks, though said that he would be discussing the CDC guidelines with state health officials and the counties before making any decisions.
We “do recognize for our fully vaccinated individuals it may be OK and healthy and safe to be out and about without a mask,” said Ige. “But clearly for the benefit of our entire community, it’s better that we continue to wear masks until we get to the point where 70 to 80 percent of our community is fully vaccinated.”
Ige said he especially wants to see more of the state’s children vaccinated.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration expanded the emergency use authorization for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to children 12 and older just this week. The vaccine was previously only authorized for children 16 and older.
About 42% of Hawaii’s residents are fully vaccinated, while 60% of the population has received at least one shot.
The governor, who has taken a very conservative approach toward COVID-19 restrictions throughout the pandemic, also pushed back on political pressure, including from U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, to ease restrictions on outdoor youth sports.
While sports like soccer have resumed, parents have complained that they aren’t allowed to watch outdoors. Ige said he would be evaluating whether it’s appropriate to have spectators at sporting events, but stressed that children have largely not been vaccinated and are still at risk from the virus.