In a one-on-one interview Thursday, Gov. David Ige said he has no imminent plans to lift Hawaii’s mask mandate despite new CDC guidance saying that fully vaccinated people may safely forgo masks for most outdoor activities.

Ige urged the public to continue wearing masks for protection as COVID-19 cases fluctuate throughout the islands.

“We believe that the basic mask mandate is still appropriate, and we won’t be making changes, or making significant changes, at this time,” Ige told Hawaii News Now.

Visitors stroll along Kalakaua Avenue without their masks during the COVID-19 pandemic. April 27, 2021
People stroll along Kalakaua Avenue without masks during the pandemic. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2021

Ige said health officials examined CDC guidelines in light of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout and decided it would be easier for Hawaii to maintain its mandate that people wear masks in public when within 6 feet of others, regardless of vaccination status.

“We don’t want to get into the position of saying if you’re vaccinated you can do different things than those who are not vaccinated. It does create an enforcement nightmare. We wouldn’t be able to determine who is vaccinated and who’s not,” Ige said.

Wearing masks indoors is still a certainty, though confusion lingers over the rules for outdoor mask use.

“If you’re outdoors and can maintain physical distance, our current standards says that you don’t have to wear a mask outdoors,” he added.

Ige’s decision not to immediately change the mask mandate comes as Hawaii reported 122 new COVID-19 infections statewide on Thursday. The death toll stands at 483.

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