By Theresa Waldrop and Paradise Afshar, CNN
Hawaii’s mask mandate will expire March 25, Gov. David Ige said Tuesday, making it the last US state to announce its face-cover requirement will be dropped.
“It’s taken the entire community to get to this point — with lowered case counts and hospitalizations,” Ige said in a tweet. He added in another tweet: “If we see another surge, we will be ready to reinstitute the mask policy, if needed.”
The mandate will come to an end at 11:59 p.m., on the same day Hawaii’s Safe Travels program, established to slow the spread of Covid-19 through safety precautions for travelers, is set to expire.
The announcement came a day after Puerto Rico said it is ending mask requirements and travel restrictions related to Covid-19. Hawaii and Puerto Rico have had some of the strictest measures in the nation aimed at curbing the spread of the disease.
“I want to once again thank everyone for their hard work and commitment to keeping our community safe. I know this is a milestone many have been waiting for,” Ige said in a separate tweet.
Cases of Covid-19 and hospitalizations across much of the US have been falling by double-digit percentages recently, according to a CNN analysis of Johns Hopkins University data.
With more than 237,500 cases and over 1,350 deaths reported as of March 8, Hawaii has seen relatively low Covid numbers compared with other US states.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s latest guidance recommends that people continue to wear masks indoors in communities with high levels of Covid-19. The agency last week said that more than 90% of US residents are now in a location with low or medium Covid-19 community levels.
Hawaii is still recommending mask-wearing in certain indoor settings, such as health care facilities, Ige said, and “organizations and businesses can choose to implement restrictions that they feel would be appropriate.”
Hawaii’s Department of Health reported an average test positivity rate of 2.3% on Tuesday.
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CNN’s Forrest Brown contributed to this report.