Hawaiians can finally sigh a breath of relief and not fog up their glasses. Mask mandates for public travel have officially been suspended through a federal ruling. This means that you no longer need a mask on public transit, airplanes, or traveling through the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport. TheBuys and Handi-van public bus systems mentioned that masking will be optional for concerned riders who may live with a high-risk individual. This does not mean that the pandemic is over, but it does mean that Hawaiians and the rest of America are on track to return to normalcy.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) noted that the Center for Disease Control (CDC) still recommends indoor mask use. In fact, the CDC originally wanted another week of mask mandates. The BA.2 omicron subvariant is on the rise, and there is some concern from officials that this could rise even higher. However, US District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle had other plans. She cited a 1944 ruling that gave the federal government the power to fight pandemics. Her 59-page ruling noted that masks do nothing to clean or sanitize.
The Mask Mandates are Over! Does that mean the Pandemic is over too?
Hawaii still has reason to wear a mask. The last time Hawaii had a 30-day period without a death related to COVID-19 was back in May of 2020. As recently as February, Hawaii saw a spike in COVID-19 deaths. The ruling may be premature, but the Biden administration still has time to fight the ruling. The administration is taking the time to further review the ruling before they officially respond.
Until then, Hawaii is poised to further remove its final restrictions on the statewide indoor mask mandate and the “Safe Travels” act. This requires a vaccine or COVID test for any individual who wishes to travel to any of the Hawaiian islands. This would leave only public schools and universities as the only places on the island that still require mask usage.
Masks have been a controversial topic since the pandemic began. In the evolving studies since the pandemic broke, masks have been at the forefront of conversation. The mandates may be over, but many people may still feel comfortable wearing them in indoor settings. However, public employees, such as flight attendants, are no longer required to deal with unruly passengers who made enforcement difficult.