CDC guidance for vaccinated travelers puts new urgency on state’s ‘vaccine passport’ plans

Updated: Apr. 3, 2021 at 11:00 AM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - More than a year into the pandemic, the CDC took a significant step toward normalcy on Friday, announcing that fully vaccinated people can travel safely in the US.

According to the new guidance, vaccinated travelers don’t need to quarantine or get tested before they fly ― unless the destination requires it.

Despite the new guidelines, Hawaii has not changed its traveler testing policies yet.

Pre-travel tests are still required for all trans-Pacific and most interisland travel to avoid quarantine. However, Lt. Gov. Josh Green says he’s calling for emergency meetings to revise the rules.

Travelers applauded the new CDC guidance Friday.

Chris Yakura and his family were in the air when the news broke.

“I think if you can show your vaccination card and both shots, you should be able to travel without being tested,” Yakura said.

Both the California firefighter and his wife are fully vaccinated. Yakura says creating a vaccination passport would make traveling to see family on Oahu a lot easier ― and less expensive.

“It was $90 for each of us to get tested,” he said.

It’s an idea Green been pushing for weeks.

“For inter-island travel, it’s a complete no brainer,” he said. “We should take away that restriction and get that done now. I would also like to see us use it for the mainland.”

He says he raised the issue among members of the Ige administration again on Friday morning.

“I’ve made a direct appeal to the governor and our leadership team that we implement that right away,” Green said. “There’s no question now with the CDC’s blessing that it’s safe. If you’re vaccinated plus two weeks, you are immune. You are safe as a traveler.”

Green adds that changes probably wouldn’t go into effect for at least another month.

As for exactly how it would work is also still unclear.

“The card would suffice to me,” said Green. “It would be shown to people at the gates.”

When asked about the possibility of people creating fraudulent cards, Green said, “If you are felt to be fraudulently producing a card we will fine you or penalize you ... with our misdemeanor charge.”

“We have that in place already.”

On Friday, more than 27,000 travelers were expected to touch down at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport ― nearly matching pre-pandemic arrival numbers.

A number of those travelers also supported easing restrictions on those who are vaccinated.

“I think if it’s a CDC guideline then everybody should uphold it and get to the CDC standard,” said Robert Hawkins, of Los Angeles.

Yakura says he hopes a decision can be made soon.

“If I could just show my vaccination card that would be a lot easier,” he said.

HNN asked both the Governor’s Office and the state Department of Health for its thoughts on the new guidelines and Green’s proposal. There was no immediate comment.

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