University of Hawaii to drop indoor masking requirements

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The University of Hawaii has announced that all remaining face mask requirements on its campuses and properties will be lifted on Saturday. Face masks must still be worn on Friday.

UH had opted to continue requiring masks indoors in classrooms, shared laboratory spaces and tightly confined educational spaces entering the fall semester to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Masking is also required at campus venues when the number of attendees is close to maximum capacity, but that, too, will be lifted after Friday.

“Mahalo for all you have done to elevate our collective understanding of personal safety during this devastating pandemic,” said UH President David Lassner in an email last Friday. “You have demonstrated our capacity to look beyond ourselves and to care for others.”

UH said the decision to lift the remaining mask requirements was based on the recommendation of its medical and public health experts as well as the latest federal and state guidance.

“The rate of COVID-19 community transmission is no longer disrupting daily life,” said UH in a news release. “Most infections now are not life-threatening, and many recover without hospitalization.”

The Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention as of today ranks Honolulu and Maui counties as yellow, medium-level communities, and Hawaii and Kauai counties as green low-level communities.

In medium-level communities, those at high risk of getting very sick should wear a high-quality mask when indoors in public, CDC said. Those with a household or social contact with others at high risk should also consider wearing a high-quality mask when indoors with them, and testing prior to the meeting.

Hawaii’s average COVID case counts continue to fall from their peak in early June, with the state Health Department last Wednesday reporting an average positivity rate of 6.4%.

Lassner asked that everyone be respectful of an individual’s choice to continue to wear a face mask and abide by signs that may be posted outside individual offices requesting that masks be worn for the protection of others.

Masking is still strongly encouraged during crowded events indoors, UH said. They are also required for those who contracted the virus and are returning from isolation.

“UH will continue to remain highly vigilant, and COVID-19 restrictions may be quickly reinstated, if conditions change and warrant stronger measures,” said Lassner.

More details are available at UH COVID-19 Guidelines.

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