Here’s what we know about the governor’s new vaccine order (and what we don’t)

Published: Aug. 5, 2021 at 4:03 PM HST|Updated: Aug. 5, 2021 at 4:05 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The governor on Thursday announced new COVID vaccine requirements for all state and county workers.

It’s a big mandate ― but there are also lots of unanswered questions.

Here’s what we know (and what we don’t):

Who is covered by the new rules?

More than 55,000 state workers and roughly 13,000 county workers are covered by the order. They include everyone from public school teachers to first responders to correctional officers.

Full- and part-time workers are included.

In addition to all state departments, the University of Hawaii is also included in the rules.

How will the new order work?

Some details of the new order haven’t been ironed out yet, but the governor said the big message is this: County and state workers will need to provide proof of vaccination by Aug. 16 or submit to weekly testing. People in the process of getting vaccinated will need to test until they’re finished.

Who will they provide proof of vaccination to? And who will make sure they’re doing it?

That’s still being worked out.

Also unclear is where they submit testing results if they choose to remain unvaccinated.

Who pays for the weekly testing?

The testing is at the employee’s expense.

The caveat to that, officials noted, is that there are number of free testing options in Hawaii.

Are there exemptions?

The details on how exemptions would work aren’t clear.

Honolulu’s mayor said there would be exemptions for medical reasons or religious beliefs.

But Kauai’s mayor said employees would either “opt in” to vaccination or testing.

The exemptions, if there are any, will be included in the governor’s final emergency order.

What happens if an employee doesn’t comply?

The governor said an employee could face termination if they fail to follow the order.

But realistically, that might be tough.

And details on how a worker would be let go weren’t elaborated on.

What do the unions have to say about this?

Six Hawaii public unions issued a joint statement Thursday saying that implementation of the vaccine mandate is a collective bargaining ― which means it must be negotiated.

The governor, meanwhile, said the state is “prepared to defend” the vaccine rules.

Have any other states instituted rules like this?

Governors in New York and California have already announced vaccine mandates for state workers.

Other governors, meanwhile, have encouraged private industry to issue rules of their own.

This story will be updated.

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