Governor Ige said yesterday that he has no intention of eliminating the Hawaii indoor mask mandate in the short term. That’s stunning news which will leave Hawaii the only state soon with an indoor mask mandate, even as airlines are planning to drop theirs. Imagine flying to Hawaii without a mask on the plane, and then having to wear one as you walk off. That scenario may actually happen unless Ige changes his mind.
The current emergency proclamation ends on March 25 at 11:59 pm. Ige does plan to eliminate most if not all restrictions at that time. But what happens to the mask mandate has not been stated. Some have suggested it may be eliminated, perhaps except for certain high-risk situations including large indoor gatherings. Ige said that in his mind, however, “it would be better to have the mandate or drop the mandate” rather than any compromise.
That comes as Ige reports that statewide there are fewer than 80 Covid-related patients and the CDC now rates all of Hawaii as low-risk for Covid activity. Each of the islands has already dropped requirements for proof of vaccination/testing for indoor dining, gyms, and bars. Ige is concerned that those changes may still result in a spike in cases.
Hawaii will be the only state with an indoor mask mandate once Oregon’s ends on March 11 and Washington’s ends on March 12.
Feds to consider ending airline mask mandate on March 18.
Even as Hawaii stands as the only state without specific plans to end its mandate, the future of the federal airline mask requirement is unclear. The TSA-based mandate is set to expire on March 18.
The largest airline flight attendants’ union wants us to keep wearing masks onboard. The union that represents over 50K flight attendants including those at Hawaii-centric Alaska, Hawaiian, and United, wants the masking requirement to be retained.
In an interview, the union representative was quoted as saying that “Our youngest passengers do not yet have access to the vaccine. The airplane is a unique, but controlled environment for everyone’s safety. The layered approach to safety and security includes masks. Aviation is a worldwide network that harmonizes safety procedures around the world. It’s also critical that we maintain passenger confidence in the safety of air travel.”
The airline mask mandate has been in place officially since last year, although airlines had asked passengers to comply with their own masking rules since 2020.
TSA has said only that masking requirements, already extended on three occasions, are currently under review, in concert with the CDC. Their decision is soon forthcoming.
If the mask mandate is dropped in Hawaii and/or for air travel, do you plan to still wear one?