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Green hopes to roll out vaccine passport pilot for inter-island travel by May 1

Updated: Apr. 10, 2021 at 7:36 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Gov. David Ige’s latest emergency proclamation includes a plan for vaccine passports in Hawaii that would allow travelers to avoid quarantine and COVID testing.

But some say it goes too far.

Ige did not provide a timeline for when the state’s vaccine passport would become available, but Lt. Gov. Josh Green says they’re hoping to launch a pilot program for inter-island travelers by May 1.

Green said one their main goals is to make it available for trans-Pacific travelers as well.

“We feel confident if you upload your card, and you have your card with you and your ID, that should be sufficient,” said Green.

The lieutenant governor adds that they’re leaning toward a verified card. He thinks only a tiny fraction of people would try to defraud the state.

“People attest that is a card that is there’s, at the penalty of significant fines or even prosecution if they fake it. And then they show us their physical card when they get here, that’s where we’re settled,” said Green.

Mufi Hannemann, president and CEO of the Hawaii Tourism and Lodging Association, believes the vaccine passport will help their industry and get people back to work.

“Businesses have lost a lot of money during this whole period here so there’s a lot to recoup,” said Hanneman. “But more importantly, we’re anxious to get this economy moving forward in a safe and healthy manner.”

In a press conference on Friday, Maui Health District officer Dr. Lorrin Pang encouraged people to get the vaccine for three reasons: herd immunity, personal health and convenience, and in case proof of vaccines will be used for more than just travel down the line.

“It might be movie theaters. If the theater owner says nobody comes in here without vaccine, or my own staff once the vaccine is approved,” said Pang. “Remember it’s experimental use approval but once it’s fully approved, I can actually tell my folks, you better get a vaccine or you don’t do 95% of the jobs of my department.”

Despite growing support for vaccine passports, there are many who are strongly opposed to the idea.

Green said although the vaccine passport will make traveling easier, this measure isn’t forcing anyone to get vaccinated.

“But I want to be very clear, if you don’t want to be vaccinated, you can still use the Safe Travels program and get a pretest,” said Green. “We don’t want to discriminate against anybody, but it will be an easier way to travel.”

Jack Miller, who was visiting from Los Angeles, supports the vaccine passport.

“Getting this test and doing all the other stuff, it’s a hassle,” said Miller.

Hawaii News Now reached out to the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency who says they’re working with county and state partners on the documentation to support the process.

HIEMA adds that more details will be available in the coming weeks.

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