LIHU‘E — Starting Thursday, July 8, vaccinated travelers from the United States and its territories into Hawai‘i may bypass quarantine measures with proof of their inoculation.
Gov. David Ige made the announcement Thursday in anticipation that in about two weeks’ time, the state will hit a 60% fully vaccinated population. As of yesterday, the state’s Department of Health has reported a 57% vaccination rate, with 62% of the population having received one of two doses.
Ige said he’d been working with county mayors for the past several weeks to incorporate vaccination rates into the state’s restriction tier system and strike a balance between public health safety and economic recovery.
“The vaccination rates have risen, and we’ve worked closely together to implement the policy changes that protect public health, reenergize the economy and sustain our communities,” Ige said at a Honolulu press conference. “Hawai‘i is nearing 60% fully vaccinated rate. We do expect to reach this mark on or about July 8, that’s two weeks from (Thursday). That means we can safely relax some of the travel and social restrictions currently in place.”
The state will also up its social gathering limits from 10 indoors to 25, and 25 outdoors to 75. Restaurants and bars will also be allowed to operate at 75% capacity on this date.
For Kaua‘i, that also means a shift into Tier 5, which is defined by the same social gathering limits.
The coveted 70% herd immunity goal is still what the state needs to hit before all COVID-19 restrictions will be lifted and the Safe Travels platform will become obsolete.
“Dealing with an ongoing disaster and challenge is an operation of art and science,” Mayor Derek Kawakami said, thanking Ige for giving a two-week notice to help restaurants and businesses prepare. “This gives them good predictability and lead time to make these adjustments.”
Kaua‘i has the highest unemployment rate in the state.
According to a state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations report earlier this week, the county has an 11.3%, not seasonally adjusted unemployment rate compared to 7.5% across the state.
Despite this, many businesses are having a difficult time recruiting employees, leading to hiring drives from places like McDonald’s, Pizza Hut and others.
Travelers will need to enter their vaccination records into the Safe Travels system, and bring a hardcopy of the record to Hawai‘i.
“I know that this change has been widely anticipated and it will make it easier for residents to return home and for visitors to come and enjoy our islands,” Ige said.
Those traveling before July 8 are still required to participate in Safe Travels and are subject to state mandates.