Hawaii is ending all Covid entry restrictions for domestic visitors.
On the state's official Safe Travels website, a new alert appeared this week.
Framed in an orange box that usually signifies alarm, the message is actually cause for rejoicing. It reads: "At the end of the day, March 25, 2022, the Safe Travels Hawai'i program will conclude. Beginning March 26, 2022, there will be no Covid-related requirements for arriving domestic passengers."
No more showing vaccination papers. No more taking Covid tests before flights. No more quarantine.
It's the news travelers have waited two years to hear. Starting March 26, arriving in Hawaii will again be just as warm as it was in the old days. When tourists get off the plane, they won't be greeted with flinty glares and document inspections. Instead, they'll be given a lei and a welcome.
"We started the Safe Travels program to protect the health, lives, and livelihoods of the people of Hawai'i," the state's governor, David Ige, said in a statement. "Right now, we are seeing lower case counts, and hospitalizations are coming down."
Hawaii is currently the only U.S. state with a statewide indoor mask mandate. That has not yet been included in the rollback.
Because Hawaii is isolated in the Pacific Ocean thousands of miles from backup hospitals, its government has had to be extremely careful not to overwhelm the medical system. So the last two years have presented the Aloha State with quite a roller coaster ride of regulations, from full closure to allowing negative-tested visitors. For a while, health providers were unable to produce enough Covid-19 tests that Hawaii had approved for entry use, depressing tourism even further.
The state tried to head off hospital overcrowding by arresting tourists who allegedly flouted quarantine rules or forged vaccination cards. Some Hawaiian islands have opted for tighter regulations than others. At one point, the state even requested that vacationers not come at all, even though the border remained open.
Omicron's fast-fading rampage means that all that turmoil is in the past, and for the health of Hawaii's bleeding tourism industry, hopefully the trouble will stay there.
After March 25, international travelers who fly directly to Hawaii will still have to comply with U.S. entry rules, but the state will impose no restrictions of its own.