Hawaii Plans to Allow Vaccinated Travelers to Skip Testing & Quarantine
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Hawaii Plans to Allow Vaccinated Travelers to Skip Testing & Quarantine

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Officials in Hawaii are working on a system that would allow visitors with proof of vaccination to skip quarantine requirements – with hopes of opening it up to travelers from the mainland U.S. this spring.

After months of being closed off to tourists during the pandemic, Hawaii re-opened to travel last October with COVID-19 testing requirements. But those restrictions have continually changed and vary from island to island.

Lt. Gov Josh Green, who has led much of Hawaii’s travel entry programs, first raised the prospect of using so-called vaccine passports to bypass the current requirements last month. This week, he told Hawaii News Now that system is already in development. Green said it will roll out for residents and inter-island travel first, with hopes of making it available to travelers from the mainland by May 1.

The vaccine passport would also allow travelers to travel freely from island-to-island, too, Green said. Currently, several islands require an additional test or even quarantines when hopping from island to island.

“This is the way we restore our economy very quickly,” Green said. “We would likely see a huge uptick in visitors by, say, the fall this way.”

It’s unclear whether travelers with proof of vaccination would also be able to bypass the current testing requirements in addition to quarantine. Currently, all visitors must provide a negative COVID-19 test from an approved source taken no more than 72 hours before departing for Hawaii. Those who don’t face a 10-day mandatory quarantine.

To learn more about current testing and entry requirements, read our master guide for updates on Hawaii travel restrictions!
hawaii travel vaccine

Despite the constant allure of Hawaii, travel to the islands remains way down during the pandemic. December visits were down by 75% compared to a year earlier, according to the Hawaii Tourism Authority. 

Hawaii clearly hopes that easing entry with proof-of-vaccination could change that. Vaccine distribution is underway across the country, with roughly 1.5 million doses being administered daily.

Green said the state hopes this new approach will triple visitors to the state by the fall to about 22,000 daily arrivals. That would still leave tourism to Hawaii down by about 17% compared to 2019.


Bottom Line

Hawaii is a tourism magnet, and COVID-19 won’t change that. But the current patchwork of ever-changing rules and restrictions has warded off even the most die-hard Hawaii fans from heading for the islands.

It’s clear that proof-of-vaccination is the way forward for travel – for Hawaii, and for the rest of the globe.


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11 Responses

    • Children under 5 are currently exempt from the testing requirement, so it’s possible those children will also be exempt from vaccination requirements. Stay tuned, we should know more in the coming days & weeks.

  • This doesn’t make any sense. The vaccine does not prevent transmission, it only prevents the symptoms.
    If you are vaccinated you can still transmit the virus. Have they really thought this through?

    • So let me get this straight. Get the required number of vaccinations and according to this logic, you still can’t travel…ever. Everyone must stay home even though they’ve been vaccinated. And the officially stamped card that I received after getting the vaccinations are no good. I follow the rules: Vaccinations, mask, social distancing and no large crowds yet I am still exempt from travel? Paranoia is not in my repertoire.

      • You are currently allowed to travel to Hawaii with proof of a negative test – and as this article says, will likely soon be able to with proof of vaccination. Many other states and even some countries also have little to no travel restrictions.

    • Yes the vaccine does prevent transmission. It was always thought by scientists that it would, and the latest clinical study on the Pfizer vaccine confirmed that the viral load in the nose and throat after vaccination and subsequent exposure is either non-existent or too low for transmission. It is thought that the same will be true for all three vaccines. Without further clinical studies the CDC is not at this point willing to make that official, but they will at some point

    • Interesting question given that I have now had COVID-19 and recovered. The “safe” move for the airline would probably be to require a vaccine or proof that you had COVID-19 and recovered within the last _______ period of time. What that period of time is I have no idea. It may be a lot easier to have someone upload proof of vaccination and just call it good as opposed to requiring antibody tests etc… for people like me who have recovered.

  • Have you seen any possible approaches that Hawaii (or other countries) are considering for turning your paper vaccine appt card into an electronic “passport”? I’ve thought about this a lot and I can’t fathom how they will be able to actually validate vaccinations from all these state/county databases that don’t have good keys like ssn or insurance #

    • That is truly the $1 million question right now. Some airlines are implementing “vaccine passport” like technology into their apps. And since the onus is most likely to be on airlines to make sure travelers have satisfied entry requirements, that’s probably the way forward. I’ve not seen any evidence of an overarching secure approach yet.

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