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Inter-island vaccine passport seen as first step in easing rules for trans-Pacific travelers

Updated: Apr. 21, 2021 at 2:25 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Starting May 11, fully vaccinated passengers will be able travel inter-island without being subject to quarantine and testing rules.

Gov. David Ige made the announcement at a news conference Tuesday.

Currently, those traveling within the state to Maui, Kauai or Hawaii Island counties must test negative for COVID-19 in order to forgo quarantine.

If they don’t meet the rules of the Safe Travels program, they have to quarantine for 10 days.

Under the new rules, vaccinated inter-island travelers will be able to upload an image of their vaccination card to the Safe Travels portal after creating an account.

“Complete the online forms, affirm that they are fully vaccinated and that the card is not fraudulent. And then upload their PDF or photo copy of the vaccination card,” said Maj, Gen. Kenneth Hara. of the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency.

After that process is complete the passenger will be given the green light to bypass quarantine.

The portal will be ready to accept the information on May 7 for those traveling May 11 or after.

Fully vaccinated is defined as someone who received their last recommended dose 14 days prior. Hara said a person is eligible for the quarantine exception on day 15.

Hara warned that delays are expected for passengers early on after the launch.

“The validation will be a manual process so that will probably slow things down a little. Our intent is to have the Safe Travels digital platform to electronically link into the Department of Health database. "

Hara also said the current system can only confirm a person who received the shots in Hawaii.

So kamaaina vaccinated outside the state will still have to have a negative COVID-19 test 72 hours prior to arrival or complete the 10-day quarantine, which is required of non vaccinated travelers.

That includes children under 16 of vaccinated travelers who are not eligible to get the shot.

Those 5 years and under are exempt from both.

The program is seen as a step toward allowing fully vaccinated trans-Pacific passengers to come into the state without being subject to quarantine or being required to take a test.

“What this is going to do is help more so the outer islands and it will help the economy move and also it is a great way for us to do like a preseason,” said Jerry Agrusa, professor at the School of Travel Industry Management at the University of Hawaii at Manoa Shidler College of Business.

Ige said he hoped a similar program for trans-Pacific travelers could happen later this summer.

Lt. Gov. Josh Green, a strong proponent of lifting the quarantine requirement for inter-island travelers, applauded the governor’s decision. He called it “just another way for us to be safe.”

Green said those who misplaced their card or had it destroyed can get a replacement by notifying the medical facility, pharmacy that provided the shot, but Green warned against those altering them.

“Lets be clear, don’t falsify this card because this is a federal document,” Green said, adding there is a hefty penalty for doing that.

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