After months of strict and sometimes labyrinthine Covid regulations, it's finally getting easier to travel to Hawaii.
Starting Thursday, July 8, fully vaccinated travelers entering Hawaii from elsewhere in the United States will no longer be required to submit Covid-19 test results or undergo quarantine upon arrival in the islands.
Gov. David Ige made the announcement at a press conference yesterday, saying that the state's vaccination rate is expected to hit a previously set benchmark of 60% within the next couple weeks. According to the state's Department of Health, 57% of the population has been fully vaccinated as of June 23.
When the policy change goes into effect, vaccinated travelers will still need to register with Hawaii's Safe Travels program and upload their vaccination cards to the portal.
Unvaccinated visitors must also register with Safe Travels and continue to follow the current rules: "Take a pre-travel COVID-19 NAAT from a state of Hawaii Trusted Testing and Travel Partner within 72 hours" of travel or complete a mandatory 10-day self-quarantine upon arrival.
With the end of testing for vaccinated visitors comes an increase in the size of permitted social gatherings—25 people indoors and 75 people outdoors—and an increase in capacity at restaurants to 75%. The Points Guy has reported that dining reservations have been difficult to get in Hawaii due to capacity limits, so the new cap should help with that.
Island-hopping is now doable as well.
Last week Ige announced the end of all restrictions on inter-island travel, bringing to a close a headache-causing chapter during which some of Hawaii's islands required quarantines and extra testing while others didn't.
The patchwork system made visiting more than one island in a single vacation all but impossible, unless of course you had endless amounts of time and money to spend confined in a "resort bubble," a term we never want to think about again.
The lifting of those restrictions applies to everybody—vaccinated and unvaccinated alike.
When will the rest of the state's Covid-19 regulations go away?
Ige's plan is to drop the indoor mask mandate and capacity limits at businesses as well as end the Safe Travels program when the state's vaccination rate hits 70%.
Though many tourism-reliant businesses would like an even speedier return to normal, the governor has previously expressed optimism that the 70% milestone will be reached by the end of the summer—though he did acknowledge last week that vaccine demand has begun to lag.