HONOLULU (KHON2) — Transpacific travel is about to get a little easier for mainland visitors. Starting Thursday, July 8, the Safe Travels Program will allow those with proof of vaccination to skip testing as well as mandatory quarantine.
The modification allows travelers fully vaccinated within the U.S. to travel to Hawaii without taking a COVID test. Some are worried loosening restrictions will negatively impact the state while others said, ‘It’s about time.’
Hawaii’s Safe Travels special projects administrator Sheri Kajiwara said travelers now have two options to bypass the mandatory quarantine requirement.
“That’s really going to be a game-changer,” Kajiwara explained. “Because people have been having trouble finding locations to test and this will eliminate all of that.”
There has been no change to international travel to Hawaii. Those travelers must first meet the CDC requirements to enter the U.S., then meet the State domestic travel requirements.
Travelers still need to create a Safe Travels account and are urged to upload their proof of vaccination prior to arrival to speed up the screening process.
“The biggest problem we see is people not coming with the right document. And the biggest challenge we see is they’re not loading it up and completing the process before screening,” she said.
Visitors also need to bring a hard copy with them.
Letters from the doctor will not be accepted as a quarantine exemption.
Only three documents will be accepted: The official CDC vaccination record card, a VAMS printout (if you lost your original vaccination card), or use your vaccination administration record if you’re in the military.
“Children under the age of five do not need to meet quarantine requirements testing requirements, and of course no vaccination requirements,” Kajiwara said.
Children five and older must provide a negative pre-test to bypass quarantine, however, and those 12 and over have the option to show proof of vaccination.
The new rules could cause an influx of travelers.
“Travel will probably increase. A lot of people are very anxious to get out and travel and Hawaii is, I think, one of the top three destinations that are safe,” Kajiwara explained.
According to the Safe Travels digital database, there are currently more than 32,719 registered trips for Thursday, slightly less than Wednesday, July 7, which had 34,405 registered trips. Travelers have until their flight departs to register so the number could increase.
Lynn Arcenal-Chan, who travels to Hawaii to visit family often, said she thinks the state should not have changed the pre-travel test requirement.
“I think it’s gonna be really crowded everywhere because Waikiki was crowded,” Arcenal-Chan said.
Hawaii Kai resident Chris Doyle was eager for the change.
“It’s good for local families to get back in touch because we have so many of our family and friends that are on the continent,” Doyle said.
According to Kajiwara, the Sate will likely make additional modifications to the Safe Travels program once 70% of Hawaii’s population is fully vaccinated. The vaccination rate is currently at 58%.
Also effective Thursday, social gatherings will increase to 25 indoors and 75 outdoors statewide. This includes restaurants, which means they can increase to 75% capacity. However, the six-foot distance requirement between tables must still be enforced.
Click here to read more about the changes.