Hawaii’s new ‘vaccine passport’ program for inter-island travelers gets positive reviews
Travelers who are fully vaccinated in Hawaii can now skip testing and quarantine.
HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The state’s vaccine passport program launched Tuesday for inter-island travelers as Hawaii works out how to expand it to trans-Pacific passengers.
It applies only to people who got their shots in Hawaii. The passport program allows fully vaccinated individuals to skip a COVID-19 test or travel-related quarantine.
Residents and businesses were delighted about the launch of the new program.
“it makes it a little easier. We don’t have to get that quarantine from the county of Kauai anymore,” said Roy Shioi, who was traveling inter-island Tuesday.
Pratt Kinimaka agreed.
“It’s much less work. You have to do online and you have to just bring the two pieces of paper so it’s a lot easier.”
The state says 40% of Hawaii’s population is now fully vaccinated and can participate in the program.
Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino said they had no major complaints.
“Everybody has been working really hard and most of the passengers have been very patient and understanding. First day we’re going to have some challenges. Give us time and we’ll work all the bugs out,” Victorino said.
“I think it’s great. I’m a nurse,” said Lynn Heen, an Oahu resident who was traveling to Maui. “It’s really helpful and I think it will help the islands to stay down where we should be ... we finally can travel and see family. It’s big.”
“Was good, was smooth. We had little bit problems. But they worked on it very fast and got our problem solved and helped us out,” said Maui resident Rodney Figueroa, who traveled to Oahu.
The program does not apply to out-of-state travel as Gov. David Ige pointed to some ongoing obstacles.
“We don’t have a firm timeline on trans-Pacific. The challenge is about verification — about vaccination done in other states,” Ige said.
“We’ve been working with a couple of other private sector partners about working to get access to the state vaccination records, and we believe that that would help them to get vaccination records in other states as well.”
That means out-of-state travelers still need a negative COVID test before arriving in the islands, even if they are vaccinated.
The governor also encourages travelers to bring their vaccination cards with them to the airport as a backup in case of problems with the Safe Travels website.
Travelers are being urged to be vigilant about travel websites that could lead to questionable charges.
[Read a related report: State warns about questionable sites that charge fees for help with Safe Travels program]
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