HONOLULU (AP) — The last statewide mask mandate in the U.S. will be lifted by March 26, Hawaii Gov. David Ige announced Tuesday.
No states will require masks indoors after 11:59 p.m. March 25. Hawaii is the last to drop the pandemic safety measure, with Washington state’s mask mandate expiring at midnight Friday.
Ige said one metric he used to determine that it’s time for the mandate to end is that there were 48 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 Tuesday. He said that’s the first time the number has been under 50 since last summer.
He said cases are trending downward and he expects that to continue in the coming weeks.
Since April 2020, the state of Hawaii has required face masks. At first it was both indoors and outdoors.
Ige said Hawaii’s culture of caring for others, especially kupuna, or the elderly in Hawaiian, helped the state tolerate the mask rule for so long.
March 25 is also when travelers arriving in the islands will no longer have to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test to avoid quarantining.
Ige said these rules have contributed to Hawaii having among the lowest rates of COVID-19 in the country.
Kauai resident Sheila Herr said she will continue wearing a mask when indoors around people, like at the grocery store, even if it’s not mandatory.
“The majority of my friends on Kauai agree that we should wear masks to protect each other,” she said.