Hawaii Drops Some Pandemic Rules For Travel Between Islands

HONOLULU (AP) — Hawaii has loosened some of its pandemic travel rules.

The change is expected to drive more tourism to Hawaii and between the islands this summer, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Wednesday.

People can now fly between islands in the state without having to be vaccinated or tested for COVID-19. The new rules began Tuesday.

“It was so easy compared to when I went to Alabama and I had to look for my health code. They don’t need it anymore for Hilo,” Big Island resident Fabinita Franco said before leaving Oahu's Daniel K. Inouye International Airport after a work trip. “I come from the Philippines, and I don’t have much knowledge of computers. I’m more confident to travel now. I was nervous before.”

Anyone who has been vaccinated in Hawaii can also now travel from the U.S. mainland without having to be tested. Unvaccinated travelers and people vaccinated outside of Hawaii must still get a negative coronavirus test before arrival to avoid a 10-day quarantine.

Sherilyn Kajiwara, a special-projects administrator assigned to the state’s “Safe Travels” program, said some travelers are still failing to get the proper test and others believe their vaccination status will allow them to bypass quarantine rules when traveling from the mainland.

On Tuesday, there were 1,693 people in travel quarantine in Hawaii.

Melanie Savage and her husband, who came from North Carolina to vacation in Hawaii, got tested at a site that was not on Hawaii's list of trusted testing partners. They had to quarantine.

“The ticket guy said we were all clear in Charlotte,” Savage said. “If we had known that we weren’t, we wouldn’t have taken the flight for eight hours and then waited in the screening line for two hours. We would have been turned around.”

Savage thinks the state should allow people who make mistakes to get a test after they arrive, which is prohibited.

“This was our first and last trip to Hawaii. We were like caged animals in our room,” she said. “We thought, ‘What the hell is this place?’ It felt like a Third World country.’”

Tourism officials said the new rules are a good step toward reopening to even more travelers this summer.

“We’re anticipating a robust summer, and this enables it to go smoothly while demonstrating that we aren’t going to sacrifice the health and safety of our community,” Hawaii Lodging & Tourism Association President and CEO Mufi Hannemann said.

Hawaii Gov. David Ige has said the state will allow domestic trans-Pacific travelers who are vaccinated outside of Hawaii to begin using vaccination exemptions when 60% of Hawaii’s population is fully vaccinated.

There will still be mainland testing requirements for children between 5 to 11 years old because they are not eligible for vaccines.

The state will end all restrictions when 70% of Hawaii’s population is fully vaccinated, Ige said.