Hawaii, the last remaining U.S. state to enforce its indoor mask mandate, will drop the rules starting on March 25, Governor David Ige announced this week.
The mask mandate will end at the same time that Hawaii’s pandemic-era COVID-19 rules, including the enforcement of its Safe Travels program, officially come to an end, marking the official return-to-normal for the Aloha State.
While private businesses can still require them if they wish, and airports will continue to operate under the federal mask mandate, Ige, at a press conference, said that Hawaii is now “committed to moving the state forward and learning to live with COVID.”
Hawaii had been one of the stricter U.S. states for COVID-19 protocols, and Ige had repeatedly told media that those rules would start to come to an end only once its residents were at least 70% vaccinated and once case counts dropped, but Omicron’s surge changed that timeline. The variant’s impact was strong enough to compel Gov. Ige to reportedly consider adding a booster-shot requirement for domestic visitors (Ige announced last month that he and his team had decided against it).
Hawaii’s government had long focused on the return of its travel sector, which had proved resilient despite the state having some of the stricter COVID-19-era travel rules.
Even with the restrictions, Hawaii remained one of the top domestic destinations in 2021 according to members of the United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA). In a survey released last month, USTOA members said that Hawaii was the third most popular domestic choice for consumers, following the National Parks and Alaska.