Hawaii ended restrictions on intercounty travel between the Hawaiian Islands on Tuesday and extended the quarantine exemption to domestic travelers who were fully vaccinated with at least one shot in Hawaii.

Hilo resident Fabinita Franco was all smiles Tuesday as she prepared to leave Daniel K. Inouye International Airport after a work trip.

“It was so easy compared to when I went to Alabama and I had to look for my health code. They don’t need it anymore for Hilo,” Franco said. “I come from the Philippines, and I don’t have much knowledge of computers. I’m more confident to travel now. I was nervous before.”

The latest change to Safe Travels helped Franco get back to work as a caregiver and represents another step toward normalcy and the broader reopening of Hawaii’s tourism-dependent economy. It’s also expected to drive more tourism to Hawaii and between the islands, although the largest gains won’t occur until Hawaii offers vaccination exemptions to all domestic travelers or ends Safe Travels entirely.

Sherilyn Kajiwara, a special-projects administrator assigned to Safe Travels Hawaii, said Tuesday during an interview with the Honolulu Star-Advertiser at the airport that travel “is busy today, but not any busier with the new restrictions lifted than yesterday.”

Testing is still allowed, but more people have begun to use a vaccination card, Kajiwara said.

“By 10 a.m. (Tuesday) we had already had about 770 travelers that used the vaccination card.”

Hawaii Lodging & Tourism Association President and CEO Mufi Hannemann said this latest loosening of some travel restrictions is not as much about bolstering tourism as it is about getting Hawaii to the next step of tourism’s reopening.

“We’re anticipating a robust summer, and this enables it to go smoothly while demonstrating that we aren’t going to sacrifice the health and safety of our community,” Hannemann said.

Trans-Pacific travelers who weren’t vaccinated in Hawaii still have to comply with the requirements of Safe Travels, which requires a negative COVID test from a “trusted travel partner.” Gov. David Ige has said that the state would allow domestic trans-Pacific travelers who were vaccinated outside of Hawaii to begin using vaccination exemptions when 60% of Hawaii’s population is vaccinated for COVID.

But even then Hawaii’s not likely to see a full tourism recovery, as families make up a large portion of Hawaii’s leisure tourism market and travelers 5 to 11 years old are not eligible for vaccines, so they must test to bypass the quarantine, said longtime Hawaii hotel­ier Jerry Gibson.

“The family market takes over from June 15 to Aug. 15, and the last thing that parents want is to be hung up by a procedural problem,” Gibson said. “We are watching the vaccination stats every day because it’s very important that we make travel to Hawaii as easy as possible. We are looking forward to the day that we can open completely and get back to normal travel.”

Ige has said the state would end Safe Travels when 70% of Hawaii’s population is vaccinated

Hawaii Gov. David Ige said Friday that the state will drop its quarantine and COVID-19 testing requirements for travelers once 70% of the state’s population has been vaccinated against the disease. Hawaii will also lift its requirement that people wear masks indoors once that level has been reached, he said.

The state Department of Health website said 59% of Hawaii’s population has had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 52% finished their dosing regimen.

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The state is using its figures, and not those provided by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to calculate thresholds for lifting restrictions. Health Department Director Dr. Libby Char said that’s because Hawaii’s numbers are more accurate. She said it appears the CDC has been counting some of Hawaii’s doses twice.

Right now, travelers arriving from out of state must spend 10 days in quarantine or, to bypass that quarantine, they must show proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken before departure for the islands.

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Once 60% of Hawaii’s population is vaccinated, Ige said, the state will allow travelers to bypass a quarantine requirement as long as they can prove they were vaccinated in the U.S.

Restrictions on travel between the islands will open up before that.

Hawaii Gov. David Ige said Friday that the state will drop its quarantine and COVID-19 testing requirements for travelers once 70% of the state's population has been vaccinated against the disease. (iStock)

Hawaii Gov. David Ige said Friday that the state will drop its quarantine and COVID-19 testing requirements for travelers once 70% of the state’s population has been vaccinated against the disease. (iStock)

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Ige said that as of June 15, people will be able to fly inter-island without taking a COVID-19 test or showing proof of vaccination. Also on that date, those who have been vaccinated in Hawaii may bypass quarantine when returning from a trip out of state.

To encourage more people to get vaccinated, the state announced it launched a website, HIGotVaccinated.com, where vaccinated people can enter to win prizes and learn about discounts at local retailers and restaurants.

Among the deals: A $3 bag of Zippy’s chili for those who show their vaccination card and 100,000 frequent flyer miles from Hawaiian Airlines.

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So many people went to the website after the state announced its existence that the site crashed. Health Department spokesman Brooks Baehr said 500 people signed up for prizes in the first hour.

The state’s push to get more of Hawaii’s residents vaccinated for COVID-19 is on this month, and everything is on the table — from a further easing of travel restrictions to an incentive campaign offering a bonanza of prizes.

Gov. David Ige announced Friday that starting June 15, Hawaii will end all restrictions on intercounty travel between the Hawaiian Islands as the state approaches the 55% vaccination rate.

Also, starting June 15, returning Hawaii travelers who have been vaccinated in the state can bypass the mandatory 10-day quarantine without a pre-travel test.

When 60% of the state’s population is fully vaccinated, Ige said, all travelers from the mainland, Alaska and U.S. territories can also skip the testing and quarantine requirement with proof of vaccination through the state’s Safe Travels program.

When Hawaii reaches the goal of 70% vaccinated statewide, essentially all travel and public health restrictions will be lifted, including indoor mask requirements, Ige said, and there will no longer be a need for the Safe Travels program.

“The easing of travel restrictions is a direct result of our robust vaccination rate, and a community that sacrificed and did what it had to do over the past year and a half to stop the spread of COVID-19,” said Ige. “We need to push hard now so we can get to the point where Safe Travels is no longer needed to keep the people of Hawaii safe.”

As of Friday, 52% of Hawaii’s population had been fully vaccinated, according to the state Department of Health, and 59% had initiated vaccinations.

A total of 1,553,304 doses had been administered in the state, up 6,550 from Thursday.

“The positive effect of vaccination is clear,” said DOH Director Dr. Elizabeth Char. “We’ve seen a decrease in cases.”

Hawaii’s average daily new cases have dropped to 52, said Char, reflecting the vaccines’ positive effect.

“But we’re not done yet,” she said. “We need to continue this progress. That’s why the Department of Health is focusing our efforts to excite and engage those who are not yet vaccinated.”

In addition to offering more vaccination information and accessibility, the state this month is launching the #HIGotVaccinated incentives campaign, with a variety of prizes and discounts in partnership with health care providers and Hawaii businesses.

Among the prizes are 1 million HawaiianMiles from Hawaiian Airlines, distributed as 10 prizes of 100,000 each, along with a trip to Las Vegas for two from Vacations Hawaii, and Zippy’s meals for a year in the form of a $6,000 gift card.

Restaurants are also participating. L&L Hawaiian Barbecue is offering $1,000 in catering. Merriman’s is offering dinner for six at any of its four locations.

Hawaii residents ages 18 and up who have already been vaccinated, as well as those who get vaccinated this month with at least one dose of Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccines, are eligible to enter at higotvaccinated.com. Entries must be received by 11:59 p.m. June 30.

Within minutes of the campaign announcement Friday

Gov. David Ige announces benchmarks for lifting travel restrictions during a press briefing on Friday, June 4, 2021. PC: Office of Gov. David Ige

Governor David Ige today unveiled a list of benchmarks he has set for lifting restrictions on travel based on the statewide vaccination rates in Hawaiʻi.

Restrictions on Inter-County Travel to be Lifted June 15

  • On Tuesday, June 15, the state of Hawaii will end restrictions on inter-county travel. “There will be no testing and no quarantine requirements for inter-county travel,” said Gov. Ige. All inter-island travel restrictions will be dropped. By mid month, Gov. Ige said he expects that Hawaiʻi will reach or be close to 55% fully vaccinated. Those who are in quarantine will not be able to travel.
  • Also beginning on June 15, there will be a quarantine exemption for incoming travelers to the state who are verified to have been vaccinated in Hawaiʻi. If travelers have been vaccinated in Hawaiʻi, and the state can verify that, they will be able to bypass quarantine without a pre-travel test when returning to Hawaiʻi from the mainland.

At 60% Vaccination Rate

  • When the state’s fully vaccinated rate reaches 60%, the state will accept proof of vaccination through the Safe Travels program, for domestic travel including trans-Pacific travelers vaccinated in the US and traveling from the continental US, Alaska and the US territories to Hawaiʻi.

At 70% Vaccination Rate, Safe Travels Ends

  • When the state’s fully vaccinated rate reaches 70%, ALL restrictions on travel will be lifted and the Safe Travels program will end. Gov. Ige said that at this benchmark, he plans to drop the indoor mask mandate as well.

“Again, we will be monitoring the health situation, and should there be a spike or an increase in cases, we will take appropriate action,” said Gov. Ige.

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“All of this is subject to continuing monitoring of the DOH for the impact of variants and other health determinants in our community such as health care capacity and other public health measures. We will always take appropriate action should there be a public health crisis in our community. I can and will change policies based on the health conditions that we see and the rate of virus circulating in our community,” said Gov. Ige.

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“Vaccination is such an important part of keeping our families and communities health and safe that I am now making the fully vaccinated rate a major consideration as we make policy decisions here for our community in Hawaiʻi,” said Gov. Ige.

Hawai‘i is currently at a 52% completed vaccination rate. “That is truly something to celebrate together. We are that much closer to protecting the public health, reenergizing our economy and strengthening our community,” said Gov. Ige during an afternoon press briefing.

“The evidence is clear. There are dramatically fewer COVID cases among those who have been vaccinated. It’s also true that the virus continues to circulate in our communities among people who have not been

Kahului Airport (Nov. 1, 2019) PC: Wendy Osher

Requirements differ between trans-Pacific travelers and those who are in Hawaiʻi and plan to travel to Maui from another county.

The County of Maui released the following guidelines and advise travelers to read these FAQs before making plans to travel to islands within Maui County.

Some key programs beginning in the coming days include:

  • Starting May 11, 2021, fully vaccinated travelers who received their vaccine in Hawaiʻi may travel inter-county (Kauaʻi, Maui, and Hawaiʻi) without having to take a pre-travel test or quarantining for 10 days. 
  • Starting May 4, 2021, the County of Maui will begin the soft rollout of a secondary test upon arrival at Kahului Airport for trans-Pacific flights (for both visitors and returning residents, including mainland arrivals).

Trans-Pacific Travel

What is a trans-Pacific traveler and what must I do to come to Maui?

Trans-Pacific travelers are those who fly directly from a mainland gateway city into Kahului Airport. This includes returning residents.

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Travelers who enroll in the state’s Safe Travels program may bypass Hawaiʻi’s mandatory 10-day quarantine by testing negative on a pre-departure COVID-19 test no earlier than 72 hours prior to the last leg of departure to Maui. Only Nucleic Acid Amplification Tests administered by the state’s trusted testing partners are recognized as valid.

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Maui County has added a new requirement, to begin May 4. All trans-Pacific travelers participating in the state’s Safe Travels Program will be subject to an additional rapid COVID test upon arrival at Kahului Airport.

I am fully vaccinated; must I still satisfy the pre-departure requirements?

Yes, all trans-Pacific travelers headed for Kahului, Maui directly from a mainland city must satisfy all pre-departure requirements even if fully vaccinated.

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I am fully vaccinated; must I take the post-arrival rapid COVID test?

No. Maui County will provide an exception for fully vaccinated trans-Pacific travelers from the post-arrival rapid COVID test requirement with proof of vaccination. Trans-Pacific travelers will still need to take a pre-departure test (as specified by the Safe Travels Program) to be receive the travel quarantine exception. Upon disembarking your aircraft, your proof of vaccination will be confirmed, after which you may bypass the post-arrival test and depart the airport.

Fully vaccinated means receiving both doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or one dose of Johnson & Johnson vaccine, plus completing 14 days after your final dose. Proof of vaccination means presenting your original CDC vaccination card or certificate of vaccination downloaded from the CDC’s Vaccination Administration Management System (VAMS).

Please note that falsifying a federal document is a felony punishable by high fines, prison time, or both.

How much does the rapid test cost?

There is no cost to the traveler.

How long will it take to get test results?

Your rapid test results should be available to you within 15 to 20 minutes.

What happens if I test positive?

Should your rapid antigen test return positive, you will be