State prepares to welcome international arrivals under new CDC entry program

The state is aligning rules with new CDC guidelines, which start Monday. Meanwhile, the Safe Travels program remains in place.
Published: Nov. 2, 2021 at 11:25 AM HST|Updated: Nov. 2, 2021 at 5:38 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The governor on Tuesday outlined how the state will begin welcoming international travelers starting next week, when the U.S. launches a new entry program.

Gov. David Ige said the main takeaway is that Safe Travels is staying in place.

But the state is also aligning its rules with the new CDC guidelines, which kick off Monday.

He said while Hawaii is welcoming international travelers, it’s unlikely the state will get a flood of new international arrivals in the short-term.

Under the new CDC program, international travelers coming direct to Hawaii will need to follow the federal rules. For non-U.S. citizens, that means proof of vaccination and a negative COVID test taken within the previous three days. U.S. citizens, meanwhile, must provide one of those.

“I want to reiterate that the international airline carrier will be responsible to screen passengers prior to departure for the United States. International travelers that do not meet the newly established federal requirements will not be allowed to board the flight,” said HI-EMA director Maj. Gen. Kenneth Hara.

Passengers cleared by the airlines won’t have to be screened when they land here.

International travelers coming to Hawaii from within the US will need to follow the Safe Travels rules.

Under the Safe Travels program, trans-Pacific arrivals can skip a mandatory quarantine if they present proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test.

“The Safe Travels Program has been an important part of the state’s defense against the virus that causes COVID-19,” Ige said.

Before the Delta surge, Ige had planned to drop travel restrictions entirely when the state hit a 70% vaccination rate. But he changed that plan after the Delta variant drove up hospitalizations and deaths.

He hasn’t said what new metric or series of metrics Hawaii will need to reach in order for the rules to disappear. Hawaii currently has a vaccination rate of 71.4%.

This story will be updated.

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