If you’ve been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and are planning transpacific travel to Hawaii, it may be summer before you’re exempt from pre-travel COVID-19 testing to skip the state’s 10-day quarantine requirement.
Hawaii Governor David Ige announced the state would launch its program allowing fully vaccinated travelers to bypass its quarantine requirement for travel starting May 11. However, initially the exemption will only apply to travelers who were vaccinated in Hawaii and are traveling between islands.
The state of Hawaii has a mandatory 10-day quarantine requirement for those arriving to an island and those traveling between islands.
Since October, travelers have been able to skip that quarantine if they could show proof of a negative COVID-19 test from one of their trusted testing partners taken no more than 72 hours before the final leg of departure and uploaded to the state’s Safe Travels website prior to departure.
Ige announced on April 9 that the state would start developing a program to allow fully vaccinated travelers to skip pre-travel tests. Fully vaccinated means that travelers are traveling at least 15 days past the final dose of their shot series.
Ige said starting with Hawaii vaccinated travelers would allow the state to troubleshoot the program before implementing it more broadly.
“And, I think most importantly, learn about what kinds of bottlenecks and delays it may inject into our screening process for inter-island travel,” Ige said to reporters during a press conference announcing the logistics of the new program.
Travelers will be able to upload a copy of their vaccination card to the Safe Travels website starting May 7. The state is able to validate those records for Hawaii vaccinated travelers through its database of vaccines administered.
“At this moment, the state is unable to verify vaccinations for individuals vaccinated outside the state,” Major General Ken Hara, director, for Hawaii Emergency Management Agency.
Hara said the state is working on a way to do that for those not vaccinated in Hawaii.
“Once the process is identified and operationalized, the state will expand the programs to include Trans Pacific-Continental United States and Alaska travelers. We’re targeting summer for that,” Hara said.
According to the state, 35% of Hawaii’s adult population has been vaccinated. Lt. Gov. Josh Green said the state has welcomed 2.6 million travelers since the start of the Safe Travels testing program in October. Right now, the state’s population is currently averaging about 80 new cases and a 1.61% positivity, a rate of infection Green said is among the lowest in the country and proof of the Safe Travel’s program’s effectiveness in preventing the spread of the virus.
“It’s a lot of people,” Green said referring to the number of travelers. “And we’ve been able to keep our counts (of the virus) down.”
Hawaii only accepts test results from trusted partners. The state offers a list of those approved labs on its website.
Some of your other options here in Arizona that are approved by the state of Hawaii include:
- XpresCheck clinic in Terminal 4 at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport
- Costco at-home test (If you choose this option, read the reviews. Some people have expressed concern with how quickly the results are turned around)
The island of Hawaii, sometimes referred to as the Big Island, does random antigen testing upon arrival. Around 25% of arriving passengers are administered a second antigen test upon arrival.
According to Hawaii County, the cost of the rapid COVID-19 arrival test is borne by the county with results expected to take 15-20 minutes for results. Those who test negative are able to skip quarantine.
Hawaii County mayor Mitch Roth said the island recently started checking who was vaccinated and allowing those travelers to skip that secondary test.
Roth said the county has been surveying arriving passengers and found 70-80% coming into Hawaii County have already been vaccinated.
Maui is also exploring similar secondary testing upon arrival. Maui mayor Mikel Victorino said tentatively the island will begin secondary testing around May 4. He said the island also planned to exempt people who have been vaccinated from that secondary test.