Hawaii becomes last state to lift mask mandate, but some opt to keep wearing them

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – The indoor mask mandate has been lifted in Hawaii, but that doesn’t mean masks have disappeared entirely.

At 11:59 pm Friday, Hawaii became the last state in the nation to lift its mask mandate.

Under state guidelines, however, businesses or agencies can choose to implement a mask policy.

At T&C Surf at Pearlridge Center, you don’t need to wear one. Some people like how they can make their own decisions.

“I love it,” said Nicole Toma, of Pearl City. “It’s kind of liberating.”

“I think people should have a choice whether they wear a mask or not,” added Jeffrey Vierra, of Aiea.

But others are still donning masks as a safety precaution.

“We’ll see how this thing kind of rolls out,” Vierra said. “But I’ll probably be wearing a mask for at least the next month.”

Roseann Vierra-Schoening, manager of T&C Surf, said many customers still chose to wear masks.

“Which is great,” she said. “It’s our own little way of keeping each other safe in our community.”

At Pearlridge and Kahala Mall, masks are optional in the common areas.

But they’re leaving it to each store to decide whether they’ll require them.

According to a survey conducted by the Hawaii Chamber of Commerce, most businesses are not requiring face coverings among employees and customers.

“After a couple of years and all the restrictions lifted, it does provide hope and a positive mindset in moving forward towards economic recovery,” said Chamber of Commerce CEO Sherry Menor-McNamara. “And going back to a level of normalcy of what we did have back before the pandemic.”

Meanwhile, masks are still required on public transportation, including buses and planes.

“I would personally like on buses and planes where it’s the circulated air and you’re not able to move around or social distance,” Toma said. “I think that would be appropriate.”

Masks are also mandated in public schools, prisons, jails, and airports.

“I think where there is a potential, like high-risk areas, where there’s a bunch of people kind of scrunched up together in one area than I think we should,” Vierra said.

Evan Egdamin, of Pearl City, said the end of the mask mandate is a positive milestone.

“I think is good, I get to see everybody’s faces again,” Egdamin said. “You know, you see people walking around and get to see smiles, I like it.”

Others say they’ll need some time to adjust.

“I’m just getting used to the whole being regular again,” said Quinn Toma, of Pearl City.

“And it’s kind of strange because we’ve gotten so used to wearing the masks for so long, but it feels so much better,” Toma said.

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