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Hawaii to lift strict travel requirements this month

The changes take effect March 26.

People take in the sun and surf on Waikiki Beach in Honolulu. (Daniel Slim/AFP/Getty)
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Hawaii will lift its strict entry requirements this month, eliminating its self-quarantine rule and allowing domestic travelers to enter the state more easily.

Starting March 26, domestic visitors no longer will have to show proof of vaccination or a negative coronavirus test result to bypass a mandatory five-day quarantine as part of the state’s Safe Travels program, Gov. David Ige (D) announced Tuesday.

A local's guide to Honolulu

International travelers to Hawaii will still be subject to the U.S. requirement of proof of a negative test taken no more than 24 hours before departure and proof of vaccination.

“We started the Safe Travels program to protect the health, lives, and livelihoods of the people of Hawaiʻi,” Ige said in a statement. “The program put in place safety protocols that included a multi-layered screening and testing approach that kept our communities safe during the COVID-19 surges that endangered the most vulnerable of our citizens. Right now, we are seeing lower case counts, and hospitalizations are coming down.”

The state’s mask mandate will remain in place, and Ige said that officials are “watching disease activity closely across the state, the country, and globally, and we will adjust accordingly to keep our entire community healthy.” Hawaii is the only state that has yet to drop a statewide indoor mask mandate.

A vaccinated couple flew their family to Hawaii. Their young son died of covid-19 on the trip.

The Safe Travels program started in October 2020 and required testing and other steps to enter the popular destination. Lt. Gov. Josh Green (D) told The Washington Post in February that officials were considering eliminating all entry restrictions by spring, in the absence of any additional coronavirus surges. New cases in the state have trended downward after a spike caused by the highly contagious omicron variant of the novel coronavirus.

Last year, officials had said Hawaii would lift travel restrictions after the state was 70 percent vaccinated, but omicron derailed that plan. According to tracking data compiled by The Washington Post through Wednesday, 77.2 percent of the state’s population has been fully vaccinated.

At one point during the surge, Ige said the state was considering a booster shot requirement for vaccinated visitors, but he dropped the idea last month.

American visitors have flocked to Hawaii during the pandemic, and the state’s economy depends heavily on tourism. Green told The Post last month that tourism was around 30 to 40 percent below numbers in 2019 but that it had almost returned to the baseline before the omicron wave hit.

Coronavirus: What you need to know

Where do things stand? See the latest covid numbers in the U.S. and across the world. In the U.S., pandemic trends have shifted and now White people are more likely to die from covid than Black people.

The state of public health: Conservative and libertarian forces have defanged much of the nation’s public health system through legislation and litigation as the world staggers into the fourth year of covid.

Grief and the pandemic: A Washington Post reporter covered the coronavirus — and then endured the death of her mother from covid-19. She offers a window into grief and resilience.

Would we shut down again? What will the United States do the next time a deadly virus comes knocking on the door?

Vaccines: The CDC recommends that everyone age 5 and older get an updated covid booster shot. New federal data shows adults who received the updated shots cut their risk of being hospitalized with covid-19 by 50 percent. Here’s guidance on when you should get the omicron booster and how vaccine efficacy could be affected by your prior infections.

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