Hawaii has removed its indoor mask mandate and travel requirements due to the coronavirus pandemic. It is the final US state to relax its rules.
The state also suspended its Safe Travels program, which required tourists to self-quarantine and provide vaccination or testing proof, per the New York Times.
“The news has been met with joyful anticipation by our guests and colleagues,” Charles Head, the general manager of the Fairmont Orchid hotel on the Kohala Coast, told the Times.
Nearly 78% of Hawaii’s population of 1.4 million is fully vaccinated, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Hawaii implemented strict restrictions compared to some US states, previously requiring unvaccinated tourists to either quarantine or test negative 72-hours before flying to the state, Insider’s Brittany Chang reported.
“We are ready to burn the masks and we are very excited,” Tony Reed, the manager of Duke’s Waikiki, told The Times.
Reed added: “It’s hard to police the guests because we’re selling an experience, right? So, having to hold somebody back and say, ‘no, you can’t do that,’ it breaks a lot of our hearts and it’s actually a thorn in our side that just would not go away.”
Other residents who spoke with The Times were less enthusiastic about the changes. Resident Melissa Millwood told the paper that perhaps if the restrictions remained in place, “the government to take it seriously to diversify the economy.”
“If we were forced to live without tourism for a little bit longer, I think the government would have been forced to invest in agriculture and other things and diversify our economy so we wouldn’t be subject to things like this. We would be more resilient,” Millwood said.
Tina Alcain, a high school teacher, told the outlet that she would continue to wear her mask indoors to protect her grandmother.
“It’s become second nature,” Alcain said. “I think I will just continue to do it until it becomes just like the everyday flu.”
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