Starting July 8, travelers vaccinated on mainland won’t need test to skip quarantine

Published: Jun. 24, 2021 at 11:51 AM HST|Updated: Jun. 25, 2021 at 5:29 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Starting July 8, Hawaii will allow travelers vaccinated on the mainland to skip quarantine without getting a COVID test ― in a major step toward fully reopening the state.

Gov. David Ige announced the change to the Safe Travels program Thursday.

In addition to expanding its “vaccine passport program,” the state is also easing restrictions on gatherings and restaurants July 8 in anticipation of reaching a vaccination rate of 60%.

Under the new rules:

  • Hawaii restaurants will get the green light to move to 75% capacity. However, they’ll still need to meet 6-foot social distancing guidelines.
  • Social gatherings of 25 people will be allowed indoors or 75 outdoors.

“The case counts are coming down. People are getting vaccinated. And there are fewer and fewer people who are at risk of becoming infected,” Ige said, in a news conference.

As of Wednesday, 57% of the state’s population was fully vaccinated.

The governor had previously pledged to exempt fully vaccinated mainland travelers from quarantine and testing when the state reaches a 60% vaccination rate.

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Visitors will need to upload proof of their vaccination to the state’s Safe Travels website and bring a physical copy of their vaccination cards with them when they travel to the islands.

Currently, travelers from the mainland ― except those vaccinated in Hawaii ― are required to test negative for COVID-19 within 72 hours of arrival and upload their results to Safe Travels.

Many tourism industry officials had hoped the state would reach vaccination milestone before July Fourth, but Hawaii’s four mayors all said they were excited at the prospect of reopening more fully.

Maui Mayor Mike Victorino said the county’s economy has been “lagging,” and he’s looking forward to easing more restrictions. “We want to open our economy,” he said.

Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi added:

“On a personal level, I wish were already at 60% (but) I stand by the decisions that were made.”

In his news conference, Ige acknowledged that Hawaii might not actually reach 60% by July 8. But Hawaii will at least be close, he said, adding he needed to give travelers and the industry a firm date.

The state’s “vaccine passport program” went into effect earlier this month for those who have been vaccinated in Hawaii and returning to the state.

It’s had few major glitches and generated lots of interest from travelers.

Separately, the governor reiterated Thrusday that Hawaii will lift all COVID restrictions when the state reaches a 70% vaccination rate. He said he believes the state could hit that point in two months.

In the meantime, he said, Hawaii’s mask mandate and other COVID restrictions remain in place. Statewide, masks are required indoors but not outdoors.

But the governor also cautioned that restrictions could be reinstated if COVID case counts rise significantly, and expressed concern about community spread of the highly transmissible Delta variant.

Ige said that almost everyone testing positive for COVID right now is unvaccinated.

This story will be updated.

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