Here’s how the weekend is shaping up. Jeff was feeling some mask fatigue at the Saturday Farmer’s Market after hearing that the CDC was removing most of its indoor mask mandate and that Hawaii is soon going to be the only state that still has one. All other states have at least announced the end of such mandates. Jeff still masked up outdoors even though perhaps 1/3 of the people there did not wear one. Not only does the indoor mask mandate stand, but Hawaii also still has a 5-day mandatory quarantine, which can be avoided only through specific testing or vaccination rules.
The whole idea of an outdoor mask requirement (yes there was a sign requiring them in theory) at a sunshine farmer’s market where people are walking around and only coming into brief contact with a vendor seems unclear. Everything we’ve seen says you likely don’t catch Covid outdoors in the sunshine.
Mayo Clinic says “When you’re outside, fresh air is constantly moving, dispersing these droplets. So you’re less likely to breathe in enough of the respiratory droplets containing the virus that causes COVID-19 to become infected (even) if you haven’t had a COVID-19 vaccine.”
Then there was the anti-vax car parade on Kauai yesterday. Sorry, we didn’t take photos, but there was a rather large parade of “my body my choice” advocates driving throughout Lihue, with American flags, large banners, and placards. For what it’s worth, we are both vaccinated and boosted.
This all comes following the latest CDC guidelines on mask-wearing, indoors, mind you, not outdoors, as they said that about 70% of areas with low to moderate cases can stop indoor mask-wearing, at least for now.
Governor Ige is rarely without controversy.
Ige has been controversial since he first hit the nuclear panic button by mistake more than two years ago. Some things don’t change, and this is a case in point. Ige said Friday that Hawaii will maintain its indoor mask mandate even with a rapidly declining number of Covid cases in Hawaii. As you know, the islands have among the lowest death rate in the country, and Ige says it is because of just such ongoing restrictions.
The governor said Friday, “Hawaii will keep the indoor mask mandate for now. We are watching disease activity across the state and globally, especially as other changes are made to current programs across the U.S. and at the county level. We will adjust accordingly. The CDC eliminated its mask recommendation once before but was forced to reinstate the indoor mask requirement when the Delta variant caused a spike in cases.” Ige confirmed that the mask mandate is to remain at least until his current emergency orders expire on March 25.
The difference between Hawaii and other states which are ending indoor mask mandates in March is that Hawaii appears to remain indecisive. And the difference between Hawaii and the CDC is that CDC appears to recognise that there is no need for now, and said it will readjust should things change. Ige’s stance, however, seems to be that, let’s just leave the masks on in case something should arise.
Hawaii House Representative Val Okimoto has asked Ige to eliminate the mask mandate, saying “We don’t need this mask mandate anymore. The people are tired of it.”
Major Covid restrictions remain in effect in Hawaii.
Those include not only the indoor mask mandate but the entirety of the Hawaii Safe Travels quarantine exemption program. That still requires arrivals to comply with specific proof of testing or vaccination requirements to avoid the otherwise 5-day mandatory quarantine.
Hawaii visitors want to vacation. Are masks here a problem for you?
With Covid on the rapid decline across the US as well as here in Hawaii, many of you are thinking about getting going on that long-postponed trip. We mentioned recently that your editors too are resuming travel around Hawaii and beyond, in just a few weeks.