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Traveling between the Hawaiian islands is about to get easier — at least for Hawaiian residents who were vaccinated against COVID-19 in Hawaii.
Starting May 11, as long as at least 14 days have passed since their second COVID-19 vaccination, state residents who were vaccinated in Hawaii will be able to bypass the state’s 10-day travel quarantine without going through the Safe Travels Hawaii pre-testing program or post-arrival county testing, Governor David Ige explained in a press conference. This exemption will make it easier for people to conduct business and see family members.
“This phased approach will allow us to assess the impacts of the program to our pre-departure document check program and screening procedures,” Ige said. “Most importantly, we’ll be able to assess any impact to our virus transmission rates and healthcare facilities. As always, our number one priority is the health and safety of Hawai‘i’s people.”
A Welcome Change
The state of Hawaii has a mandatory quarantine requirement for all travelers arriving on an island as well as those traveling between islands. However, since last November, travelers have been able to skip that quarantine by proving they had a negative COVID-19 test conducted by one of Hawaii’s trusted testing partners. The test must have been conducted no more than 72 hours before the final leg of departure, and the results must be uploaded to the state’s Safe Travels website prior to departure.
The exemption beginning May 11 is considered a welcome change for Hawaii residents who need to travel between the islands because it simplifies their travel. However, they will still need to carry their vaccination card documenting their vaccination history.
“We are islands separated by miles of ocean but yet closely connected by friends, family, and a shared sense of community,” Hawaii County Mayor Mitch Roth said at Governor Ige’s press conference. “This is why we are so excited to work alongside the Governor and other mayors to begin safely reconnecting our families from Hilo to Hanalei — and everywhere in between. For us, this is a step toward normal, and we are prepared to continue supporting the State as we combat the virus and begin reopening — together.”
The vaccine exception to Hawaii’s Safe Travels program is expected to go into effect for visitors from the continental U.S. later in the summer — although a specific date has not been announced. The problem is that each state manages vaccination records differently, and Hawaii is currently only able to verify vaccination records for people who were vaccinated in Hawaii.
“We do anticipate that [the exception for travelers from the continental U.S.] will happen this summer, but it depends on how quickly they will be able to connect the networks to get access to vaccination information for all the states,” Ige said. More information about Hawaii’s Pre-Travel Testing Program can be found here. More information about the vaccine exemption for inter-island travel can be found here. For Hawaiian travel planning inspiration, consider all our Hawaii content here.