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Hawai‘i is one step closer to testing- and quarantine-free travel.
The new program could be expanded to mainland travelers sometime this summer.
Hawai‘i took its Safe Travels program to the next level on Tuesday, allowing fully vaccinated state residents to bypass COVID-19 testing and a 10-day quarantine when traveling interisland. This makes the Aloha State second only after New York to launch a digital vaccine certificate program in the United States—though Hawai‘i is the first to apply the vaccine pass system to travel.
On May 7, Hawai‘i Governor David Ige signed an order that gives island residents the option to upload their travel information and vaccination data to the Safe Travels online platform. The order goes into effect on May 11. Since last year, Hawai‘i residents and visitors have been required to provide negative COVID test results procured within 72 hours of departure in order to fly between the Hawaiian Islands without having to quarantine.
While the new program is currently only available to state residents vaccinated in Hawai‘i, it is expected to be expanded to out-of-state travelers sometime this summer, according to local news agencies. For now, travelers from the mainland are still required to submit a negative COVID-19 test taken no more than three days prior to flying to Hawai‘i in order to bypass the otherwise mandatory 10-day quarantine.
U.S. citizens are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving their second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or two weeks after a single dose of Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
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The move is great news for the 39 percent of Hawai‘i’s population who are now fully vaccinated, according to Johns Hopkins. Fifty-eight percent of the state’s residents have received at least one vaccine dose.
Here’s what Hawai‘i residents need to do to qualify for the new vaccine passport program:
Upon their arrival on another island, fully vaccinated state residents will be required to show their Safe Travels QR code, which was provided after they registered with the program online. The submitted vaccination information is cross checked with the Department of Health’s database and others administering the program.
All counties in Hawai‘i are participating in the vaccine pass program except Honolulu County, which does not require interisland travelers take a COVID test or quarantine.
Hawai‘i residents who are not fully vaccinated when they take an interisland flight, as well as all nonresident travelers in Hawai‘i, will need to comply with the pretravel testing and/or mandatory quarantine requirements laid out by each individual county: Kaua‘i, Maui, and the County of Hawai‘i.
If this new phase in Hawai‘i’s Safe Travels program is successful, there is hope that the vaccine passport program will allow a further reopening of the state’s tourism industry as it expands to travelers from the U.S. mainland and other countries. An increase in tourism would be a big benefit to local businesses in Hawai‘i, which have been hit hard during the pandemic.
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