HONOLULU (KHON2) — Hawaii’s 2021 holiday season kicked off with relaxed COVID-19 restrictions statewide, giving residents an air of hope and excitement.
Then the spread of a new COVID-19 variant: ommicron.
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When asked if he would consider tightening restrictions, Governor David Ige said: “I am encouraged because we see strong demands for vaccinations. We see a very strong desire for boosters for those who are fully vaccinated.”
While the variant is worrisome, Ige adds: “By talking to health experts from South Africa and, and in the US, the Omicron variant does not appear to be more lethal or increase the severity of the disease. So we remain hopeful.”
That doesn’t mean you should be wary, he warns.
“Everyone knows what we need to do to keep our community safe,” Ige said. “It’s about people being smart about their holiday interactions. Avoid large gatherings, especially if they’re people you don’t normally interact with. Wear your masks, especially indoors, because we know that makes a difference.”
As for dropping the mandate for inner masks, Ige says it won’t happen anytime soon.
“I’ve been asked that so many times,” he said.
“When we talk to other governors, we think about actions we’ve all taken and what things worked and what didn’t,” he said. “The biggest concern I hear from many of the governors is that they relaxed the mass mandate too quickly.”
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“The science shows it makes a huge difference,” Ige added. “I am proud of the people of Hawaii. I still see very good adherence to wearing masks, even outdoors, and it’s not mandatory to wear them outdoors.”