LIHU‘E — Traveling across the island chain will soon become easier for fully vaccinated Hawai‘i residents.
The program, specific to inter-county travel, will allow specific travelers to bypass the state-mandated 1o-day quarantine without having to worry about a pre-travel COVID-19 test beginning May 11, Gov. David Ige announced Tuesday.
“I know a lot of our residents have been patiently waiting for this day,” Mayor Derek Kawakami said Tuesday.
This exemption will be part of the Safe Travels program and will only be for Hawai‘i residents who received a vaccine in the state and have reached “fully vaccinated” status, which is considered 15 days after receiving the last recommended dose of vaccine from Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson &Johnson.
Within the app, travelers will need to upload their U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-issued vaccination card and carry the card on them during travel, in addition to following other safety protocols, like social distancing and mask-wearing.
Across the state, 1,076,512 doses have been administered, meaning 35% of the state has received at least one dose, Lt. Gov. Josh Green reported.
“We’ve done well so far in Hawai‘i, but we really need to continue to work that everyone is able to get vaccinated in the weeks that follow,” Ige said.
The platform will open May 7, for flights May 11 and beyond. Hawai‘i will become the second state, after New York, to implement a program like this.
Hawai‘i residents who were vaccinated outside of the state will not be qualified for the first iteration of the program, Green said.
Adults who are unvaccinated will still have the option to bypass the 10-day quarantine with a COVID-19 test through a state-approved partner taken 72 hours within boarding the flight.
Children under 5 are ineligible for a vaccine, and those 16 and up are only able to take the Pfizer vaccine.
Between those ages 5-15, Green said there’s still the option to bypass the quarantine with a pre-test.
Green said vaccination is not a requirement, and not meant to infringe on a person’s right to choose whether or not they will get a vaccine.
Since its launch, 2.6 million travelers have used Safe Travels, about 2 million being visitors, Green said.
The state is working on a vaccination process for out-of-state travelers, with a summer target, Hawai‘i Emergency Management Agency Director Major General Ken Hara said.
One of the challenges is that there has been no established federal registry to document vaccines amongst states. Ige has mentioned two programs, Clear and CommonPass, as contenders for a “vaccine passport.”
“This will validate the screening process necessary, and more importantly learn bottlenecks and delays it may inject into our screening process,” Ige said.