Hawaii Lifts Outdoor Mask Mandate

Hawaii is starting to look a little bit more like its pre-pandemic self.

Visitors can now enjoy Hawaii's beaches, hiking trails, and majestic outdoor vistas mask-free, regardless of their vaccination status. The state lifted its outdoor mask mandate on Tuesday and has paved the way for its world-famous surfing competitions to restart in June.

Multi-team sports, including baseball and soccer, have also been cleared to resume on June 1. "The success of our vaccine program and the cooperation of our residents across the state, have brought us to this point," Hawaii Governor David Ige said in making the announcement.

"It's the news we have been waiting for out here in Hawaii," Stacy Small, the Maui-based founder and CEO of Elite Travel International, told Travel + Leisure. Several of her clients live in states that have already lifted mask mandates, she said, hinting that changes to the state's pre-arrival COVID-19 testing protocols may also be in the works.

All visitors to Hawaii, including those who have been vaccinated, are currently required to test negative for COVID-19 prior to arrival or face a mandatory 10-day quarantine.

For now, Hawaii plans to continue requiring people to wear face masks indoors. "Until more people are vaccinated, we must continue to take precautions indoors and outdoors in large groups for the safety of our loved ones, neighbors, and communities," Ige said.

Hawaii's COVID-19 positivity rate now stands at 1%, according to the state's latest official data. The state has administered nearly 1.5 million coronavirus vaccines, with about 49% of its population now fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Several states have already lifted their mask mandates in response to the CDC's guidance, updated recently to no longer recommend masks for vaccinated people in most indoor or outdoor settings. Hawaii has taken a more conservative approach to rolling back its coronavirus restrictions.

The state continues to recommend face masks outdoors when in large groups. "The virus is still circulating in our community, and unvaccinated people are particularly at risk," Ige said.

In Oahu — home to famous Waikiki Beach and Diamond Head — social gatherings remain limited to 10 people or less.

Meena Thiruvengadam is a Travel + Leisure contributor who has visited 50 countries on six continents and 47 U.S. states. She loves historic plaques, wandering new streets and walking on beaches. Find her on Facebook and Instagram.

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