“There will be no testing, no quarantine requirements for inter-county travel,” Gov. David Ige (D) said at a news conference earlier this month.
Ige said at the time that the change was possible because Hawaii was approaching a new milestone of having 55 percent of the population fully vaccinated. The state had reached that benchmark by Monday. Since May 11, those inter-county restrictions also did not apply to state residents who had been vaccinated in Hawaii.
Also starting Tuesday, people who have been vaccinated in Hawaii will not have to test or quarantine upon their return if they leave the state.
Ige said future easing of travel rules will also be tied to vaccination rates in Hawaii, an announcement that coincides with a vaccination campaign and incentive push. The state has had its Safe Travels program in place since October, with strict requirements for testing before arrival — or staying in quarantine for 10 days.
Once the state reaches 60 percent of the population fully vaccinated, domestic travelers who were vaccinated in the United States will be able to visit without needing to test in advance or quarantine after they arrive. In April, officials said that vaccinated travelers from the continental U.S. would be able to skip testing later in the summer, but did not announce a date.
Reaching the big goal, a 70 percent vaccination rate, means restrictions on travel for everyone will be lifted.
“The easing of travel restrictions is a direct result of our robust vaccination rate, and a community that sacrificed and did what it had to do over the past year and a half to stop the spread of covid-19,” Ige said in a statement. “We need to push hard now so we can get to the point where Safe Travels is no longer needed to keep the people of Hawai‘i safe.”
In his news conference, Ige said the rules would be subject to constant monitoring and cautioned that he would change policies based on health conditions and the rate of coronavirus circulating in the state. He also said he could lift restrictions earlier if conditions allow.
“It is possible if the number of new cases drops to an acceptable level, that we terminate the restrictions ahead of those percentages,” he said.
John Derrick, who founded an online guide to Hawaii travel nearly 20 years ago, said rules around inter-county travel have been especially confusing to his readers. Often, he said, people wanted to stay on one island but take a quick jaunt to another — which largely hasn’t been possible due to testing requirements.
“We strongly suggested: ‘Don’t take day trips,’ ” said his wife, Victoria Derrick, president and publisher of GuideofUS Hawaii.
The new system that goes into effect Tuesday, he said, will be a “big bonus” for travelers — and the promise of fewer restrictions in the future is giving travelers an easier path to look forward to.
“It seems like there’s been more relief amongst people who are coming in the coming weeks and months,” John Derrick said.