Hawaii Officially Drops Testing Requirements for Vaccinated Travelers
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Hawaii Officially Drops Testing Requirements for Vaccinated Travelers

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It’s finally happening: As of today (Thursday, July 8), Hawaii officially allows vaccinated travelers from the mainland to bypass confusing testing requirements and mandatory quarantines to visit the islands. 

The change has been in the works for months as a vaccination campaign gained steam on the mainland and on the islands. Hawaii reopened to travelers last October with testing requirements, but constantly changing restrictions that varied from island to island made travel more complicated. Since mid-October, all travelers were required to present a negative COVID-19 test taken no more than 72 hours from departure.

Now, fully vaccinated travelers can simply upload their Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) vaccination card to the Hawaii Safe Travels portal before departure and show their card again upon arrival to skip those testing requirements altogether. Hawaii considers travelers to be fully vaccinated 15 days after receiving the second dose of a Moderna or Pfizer vaccine or the single Johnson & Johnson shot.

That’s a much easier path to make way for Hawaii. Children under 5 are exempt from both vaccination and testing requirements. Children ages 5 to 12 will still need a negative COVID-19 test to visit Hawaii, even when accompanying vaccinated parents.
 

hawaii vaccinated travelers 

Unvaccinated travelers must still provide a negative test to enter Hawaii, as do international visitors.

Shifting to vaccination requirements for travelers has been in the works for months in Hawaii, one of the last remaining states with any travel restrictions. Ige and other Hawaiian officials see proof of vaccination as the best way to simplify those restrictions and bring back more tourism without putting the islands at risk.

“The case counts are coming down. People are getting vaccinated. And there are fewer and fewer people who are at risk of becoming infected,” Ige said while laying out the timeline at a news conference last month.

Other changes in Hawaii are underway, too. It’s gotten easier to island-hop, as Ige has dropped all inter-island travel restrictions regardless of vaccination status. At the same time Hawaii relaxes travel restrictions, restaurants across the islands will be allowed to expand to 75% capacity. Social gatherings can get larger, too.

And when the state hits a 70% vaccination rate, Ige says Hawaii will drop all travel restrictions as well as its longstanding mask mandate. Masks are already optional outside. Hawaii News Now reports that 58% of Hawaiians are currently vaccinated.

But Ige warned that some of these restrictions could return if COVID-19 case counts climb again, citing the growing concern about the new Delta variant.

Despite the constant allure of Hawaii, travel to the islands cratered throughout much of the pandemic. Months after reopening, December visits were still down by 75% compared to a year earlier, according to the Hawaii Tourism Authority. But that has picked up recently, with visitor numbers in May nearly quadruple what Hawaii saw just four months earlier in January.

 

Bottom Line

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

But now that’s changing. As of Thursday, July 8, fully vaccinated travelers can bypass those testing requirements by uploading their vaccination card and bringing it with on their trip to Hawaii. That’s a much simpler pathway to paradise – though children 5 to 12 will still need to get tested.

 

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14 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.

  • My 90 year old Aunt is going to Hawaii the end of June. She was told that she needed a negative test from an “approved source” before flying as state in the above article. “Currently, all visitors must provide a negative COVID-19 test from an approved source taken no more than 72 hours before departing for Hawaii.” The problem is, the “approved source” is charging $130-$150 for the test!!! This is crazy when, any other time, you can get tested for FREE. It’s a racket…

  • What about those who have only received the first vaccine? is a negative test still required before departure?

    • Yes, only fully vaccinated travelers can bypass the testing requirement. That means you’ll still need a test for now.

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