Hawaii to ease testing rules for travelers vaccinated in US
HONOLULU (AP) — Hawaii will drop its testing and quarantine rules for fully vaccinated domestic travelers in two weeks.
Gov. David Ige said Thursday the state will drop the current travel restrictions for vaccinated U.S. mainland travelers on July 8.
Those using the quarantine exemption must upload their vaccination cards to a state website and also bring a hard copy while traveling.
The governor said he expects the state will reach a 60% vaccination rate among all residents by that time, a milestone he had previously set for allowing more vaccination travel exemptions.
Travelers must be two weeks beyond their final vaccine shot to be eligible.
Officials recently announced a set of incentives for people to get vaccinated, including airline tickets and restaurant discounts.
“While incentives are nice, the most important thing is that the more our people are vaccinated, we will see better health outcomes and we will get back to normal sooner,” Ige said.
Restaurants will also be able to seat up to 75% of their capacity on July 8, although social distancing rules between tables will remain, the governor said. Some restaurants have said they cannot increase their capacity with the current distancing rules.
People will still be required to wear masks when gathering indoors. Masks are not required outdoors.
When the state reaches a 70% vaccination rate, the governor said he will drop all pandemic-related restrictions.
“Case counts are coming down,” the governor said. “People are getting vaccinated, and there are fewer and fewer people in our community who continue to be at risk of getting infected.”
Ige added that gathering sizes will increase from 10 people to 25 people while indoors and from 25 to 75 people outside.
People who are not vaccinated will continue to be required to get a negative coronavirus test before travel to Hawaii.
Hawaii has had among the lowest COVID-19 infection and death rates in the nation since the start of the pandemic. The state has required testing or quarantine for most arriving travelers.
The state’s tourism-based economy was decimated, and Hawaii has had one of the highest unemployment rates in the United States.
Island mayors joined the governor and said their respective counties would be ready for the changes.
“We’ll be ready on July 8,” said Kauai Mayor Derek Kawakami, adding that it seemed like the island was already nearing its capacity for visitors.
“It looks like the economy is roaring back,” Kawakami said. “But for our mom and pops and our restaurants, it’s good news that they’ll be able to add more tables, add more chairs and serve more customers, because they really need that.”