The Governor of Hawaii has approved a vaccine passport program for inter-island travel that may begin as early as next month, expanding to out-of-state travelers by the summer.
The vaccine passport for Hawai was first announced in February. While the program will not be up and running for all Americans by May as originally thought, they plan to launch a pilot program for inter-island travelers by May 1st.
The announcement was made in the governor’s latest emergency proclamation in response to the coronavirus pandemic, which also extended the statewide eviction moratorium for another two months.
How Will The Vaccine Passport Work in Hawaii?
Currently, Hawaii requires travelers arriving without a confirmed negative coronavirus test within 72-hours of departure to quarantine for ten days, per the Safe Travels Program.
Vaccinated Travelers Can Skip Testing and Quarantine
With the new vaccine passport program, vaccinated travelers will be able to skip the testing and quarantine requirement by uploading valid vaccination documents to the Safe Travels Program or by showing documents in person.
Travelers can qualify for the exemption two weeks after they are fully vaccinated.
Hawaii’s Governor, David Ige, has approved the vaccine exemption program, pending approval from Hawaii Emergency Management Agency director General Kenneth Hara.
Josh Green, the Lieutenant Governor of Hawaii, says that Hara is all for it.
“General Hara and I are in lockstep to get this done,” Green said. “Really, it was a good day when the governor agreed to go this direction. This is the game changer for Hawaii.”
They are currently working with the developers of multiple apps, including Clear, CommonPass, and FirstVitals, to integrate a pre-flight vaccination verification process into the state’s Safe Travels program for travelers arriving by plane.
Green said that the vaccine exemption is the “natural evolution of our Safe Travel Program” and will present the governor with their plan for the program this week.
No timeline was announced for when the state’s vaccine passport would be available, but Green says they’re hoping to launch a pilot program for inter-island travelers by May 1st, according to Hawaii News Now.
In a statement Green said:
“We’ve already seen a large uptick in travel numbers. We have the [lowest] Covid-19 infection rates in the country, and I think a lot of people are deciding it’s time for a trip to Hawaii. A vaccine passport program will have an enormous impact, and I’m pushing the governor and team hard to accept the program. We need to have this in place before summer travel so it’s all buttoned up for everyone interested in coming.”
Unvaccinated Travelers Can Still Visit Hawaii
Any travelers who are not vaccinated can still visit Hawaii by following the Safe Travel Program guidelines.
Unvaccinated travelers can avoid the state’s mandatory quarantine if they upload a negative Covid-19 test that’s administered within 72 hours from the final leg of departure.
“But I want to be very clear, if you don’t want to be vaccinated, you can still use the Safe Travels program and get a pretest,” said Green. “We don’t want to discriminate against anybody, but it will be an easier way to travel.”
He said they would not allow exemptions for international travelers until “much later” due to the increasing number of COVID-19 variants worldwide.
Vaccine Passports Are Becoming a Contentious Issue
Vaccine passports are becoming a politically contentious issue in the United States, with some states outright banning vaccine passports arguing that they discriminate against the unvaccinated. The World Health Organization has also warned against vaccine passports for permission to travel.
Several prominent U.S. businesses, from cruise lines to concert venues, have started their own vaccine verification systems in an effort to reopen while the EU is rolling out a vaccine passport for summer travel.
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