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Governor says Hawaii’s digital ‘vaccine pass’ could be ready by Labor Day

Published: Aug. 25, 2021 at 2:44 PM HST|Updated: Aug. 25, 2021 at 2:46 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Gov. David Ige said Wednesday that he hopes to have a “vaccine pass” system up and running for entrance to restaurants, bars, gyms and other venues by Labor Day.

But he added that he has no immediate plans to mandate vaccinations for entry to businesses.

“That would be voluntary at this point,” he said, in an interview with Hawaii News Now.

Several cities, including New York and San Francisco, have instituted vaccine mandates for restaurants and other indoor venues in a bid to stem the spread of the COVID-19.

And last week. Lt. Gov. Josh Green indicated that Hawaii was eyeing a similar program. The governor said Wednesday a mandate could still be imposed, but stressed there are no immediate plans to do so.

Ige envisions modifying the state’s Safe Travels app to allow people to upload their vaccination cards and get a unique QR code that they can display at businesses.

It’s unclear how many Hawaii establishments would actually take the step of requiring vaccines without a government mandate. Several that have reported being met with strong backlash.

The governor’s statements come amid an ongoing surge of new COVID infections in the islands that’s straining the health care system, prompting concern ERs and ICUs could soon be overwhelmed.

Earlier this week, Ige discouraged tourists from coming to the islands ― pointing out that restaurants are at 50% capacity ― but stopped short of instituting new measures to keep them away.

Also this week, Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi canceled all large gatherings on Oahu for at least the next 28 days. Gatherings can not exceed 10 people indoors or 25 people outdoors.

Ige said Wednesday that he believes his message to visitors is getting out, and that his office has been flooded with calls from tourists for clarification.

“We’re telling them to delay travel,” he said. “We certainly are in a health crisis. COVID-19 and the delta variant is being spread in our community in very high levels.”

Does Ige’s request to tourists have any teeth?

“It has been effective. I know we’ve gotten calls here in the office of people asking for clarification and we are asking them to delay travel,” said Ige.

“I know we’ve been averaging 30,000 per day last week or two weeks ago. Yesterday was about 22. So it’s had I believe some impact. The last time I asked visitors to voluntarily not come to the islands, we saw about a 50 percent reduction in travel,” he added.

Hawaii News Now asked if Ige was warning travelers if they could catch COVID-19 in Hawaii.

“Certainly the visitors or people who are inclined to travel all across the country are getting that message and it’s not coming from me,” said Ige.

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