Details: Hawaii Lifting Travel Restrictions Based On Vaccination

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Hawaii has become one of the most popular vacation destinations during the pandemic, as the state has been open to visitors in conjunction with pre-travel testing. I visited Maui in May, and had an incredible trip. The state has now outlined its plans for a full tourist reopening, including lifting of all travel restrictions. However, we’ll have to be patient, as the lifting of restrictions is based on vaccination rates in the state.

Let’s take a look at the three steps to getting all travel restrictions lifted.

Inter-island travel restrictions ending (as of June 15)

As of June 15, 2021, Hawaii will lift all inter-island travel restrictions, including for those who aren’t vaccinated.

For context, currently Hawaii requires inter-island travelers to either get tested within 72 hours of travel, or to quarantine for 10 days. There are some exceptions depending on the islands you travel between, but that’s the general rule.

Hawaii did recently start to exempt vaccinated travelers from these restrictions, but only those who have been vaccinated in Hawaii (which obviously excludes a vast majority of tourists). The reason only travelers vaccinated in Hawaii were excluded is because the state had no real way to track whether other vaccination documents were real or fake.

These inter-island travel restrictions have made a multi-island trip to Hawaii significantly more complicated. This will become much easier on June 15.

Hawaii’s inter-island travel restrictions are being lifted

Testing requirements ending for vaccinated travelers (at 60% vaccination)

Once Hawaii reaches a 60% vaccination rate, those traveling between the mainland and Hawaii can present proof of vaccination in lieu of pre-travel testing. For the past several months, Hawaii has required all travelers from the mainland to get tested within 72 hours of travel, even if vaccinated.

The whole pre-travel testing process can be somewhat complicated and costly, given that the state only accepts results from select testing providers. This new system will make things much, much easier.

Vaccinated travelers from the mainland will no longer have to get tested

All travel restrictions being lifted (at 70% vaccination)

Once Hawaii reaches a 70% vaccination rate, all travel restrictions will be lifted. In other words, at that point the state won’t even require pre-travel testing for unvaccinated travelers. Presumably this would also be the end of other travel restrictions, like capacity controls on dining, mask mandates, etc.

All travel restrictions will be lifted at a 70% vaccination rate

When will Hawaii reach 60-70% vaccination?

The only concrete date as of now is June 15, which is when inter-island testing requirements will be eliminated. The other restrictions being lifted are purely based on vaccination rates.

As of now, roughly 52% of Hawaii’s population is fully vaccinated. That raises the question of when Hawaii will reach the 60-70% vaccination rate needed for more restrictions to be dropped. It’s of course hard to say when further restrictions will be lifted, since the whole pandemic is kind of unprecedented in the United States during modern times.

The problem in Hawaii — just as in other states — is that the vaccine distribution rate is dropping significantly. In Hawaii it’s now about half of what it was a month ago, and presumably it will continue to drop. Those who are motivated to do so have already gotten the vaccine, while others are either against the vaccine, or simply can’t be motivated to get it. On the plus side, there are plenty of people who got their first shot, and should hopefully get their second shot in the coming days and weeks.

The general goal seems to be that Hawaii reaches a 60% vaccination rate in early July, and a 70% vaccination rate in late July or early August. This matches an earlier goal that Governor Ige had set of lifting testing requirements for vaccinated travelers by somewhere around July 4.

Of course it’s anyone’s guess if that’s how things actually play out, as there’s no real way to know.

Hawaii should be fully reopen later this summer

Bottom line

Hawaii has finally revealed a concrete plan to lift travel restrictions, based largely on vaccination rates in the state. Inter-island travel restrictions will be lifted as of June 15, testing requirements will be eliminated for vaccinated transpacific travelers as the state reaches a 60% vaccination rate, and all travel restrictions will be lifted as the state reaches a 70% vaccination rate.

What do you make of Hawaii’s plans to lift travel restrictions?

Conversations (20)
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  1. Luke

    Looking at this source which I have been looking at everyday last few months, can see that in Hawaii 67.6% of the population has taken the first dose of vaccine and 48.4% has taken the second dose. I'd think most people who take the first dose will not skip taking the second dose hopefully so we should reach the 60% goal in next few weeks I think. 70% may be bit of a strech though...

    Looking at this source which I have been looking at everyday last few months, can see that in Hawaii 67.6% of the population has taken the first dose of vaccine and 48.4% has taken the second dose. I'd think most people who take the first dose will not skip taking the second dose hopefully so we should reach the 60% goal in next few weeks I think. 70% may be bit of a strech though based on current data and take long time if at all. Opening up the vaccine to more age groups like under 12 would definitely help achieve that.

    Source:
    https://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/covid-vaccine-tracker-global-distribution/

  2. Trey

    CDC website is showing that 79% of those eligible for a vaccine (i.e. 12+) in Hawaii have gotten at least one dose and 57% of this group are fully vaccinated. From this data, a 70% full vaccination goal for those eligible is very reasonable and they should get there within the next month or so... A 70% full-vaccination goal for the entire population when kids (0-11) probably won't be eligible for at least 4-5 months isn't gonna come any time soon.

    1. That Guy

      Exactly.

      There's no chance they reach 70% of the total population fully vaccinated before under 12's are eligible.

  3. That Guy

    “ On the plus side, there are plenty of people who got their first shot, and should hopefully get their second shot in the coming days and weeks.”

    Not all of them.

    Based on the most highly vaccinated group in the US (65+), there’s about a 10% gap between 1st shot takers and 2nd that doesn’t seem to be closing.

    1. Luke

      Wonder if the single shot JnJ vaccine is being counted as just 1st shot so then is looking as if hasnt completed the "fully vaccinated" requirement.

    2. That Guy

      No.

      JnJ takers are counted as "fully vaccinated" immediately, not as "first shot only".

  4. Hepworth

    This may actually disincentivize Hawaiians from getting vaccinated. There is a large population who would prefer that the mainlanders stay there.

  5. EC2

    The pandemic is not unprecedented. The 57-58 (I would consider modern times) killed up to 4 million people worldwide.

    The Governor also mentioned (not mentioned in this post) that he could waive the percentages based on low infection rates. Seems good since 70% will be hard to achieve as kids don’t need the vaccine as they are in an extremely low risk group and many that already have the antibodies will opt out.

  6. jackson

    why are there ads in the comments?

    1. That Guy

      Because Ben doesn't work for free?

      Just a guess.

  7. PresRDC

    Would dropping the testing requirement for interisland travel supersede a particular county/island's testing requirement? In other words, does this mean that Maui's testing requirement would go away?

    Also, if the testing requirement for mainland travelers is dropped for vaccinated travelers, would the 5 year old limit still apply? In other words, if two vaccinated parents and an unvaccinated five year old are traveling to Hawaii, would the five year old still need to be tested,...

    Would dropping the testing requirement for interisland travel supersede a particular county/island's testing requirement? In other words, does this mean that Maui's testing requirement would go away?

    Also, if the testing requirement for mainland travelers is dropped for vaccinated travelers, would the 5 year old limit still apply? In other words, if two vaccinated parents and an unvaccinated five year old are traveling to Hawaii, would the five year old still need to be tested, or is Hawaii taking the more sensible position that unvaccinated children of vaccinated parents, where the child is ineligible for vaccine, are also exempt from the testing requirement?

  8. OMAATfan

    I hate the new site so much. It's too busy. Love the content still but making me dizzy with the new fonts and format.

    1. aptsguy

      Ditto. Bring back the old format.

  9. Maui

    The state is finally taking care of the residents first with this policy. Allowing Vaccinated residents to travel to the mainland before we flood the islands with more tourists is the right move until we achieve a higher vaccination rate.

    Pre travel testing requirements doesn’t seem to be limiting people from visiting much. The airports and beaches are packed, and at this point we have far more flights from the mainland than before the...

    The state is finally taking care of the residents first with this policy. Allowing Vaccinated residents to travel to the mainland before we flood the islands with more tourists is the right move until we achieve a higher vaccination rate.

    Pre travel testing requirements doesn’t seem to be limiting people from visiting much. The airports and beaches are packed, and at this point we have far more flights from the mainland than before the Covid shut downs.

    We just need the airlines to start charging more so we don’t see so many cheap tourists flocking here.

  10. Juno

    oh man o man... I am leaving for Hawaii on the 26th.. 5 nights in HNL and 5 nights in OGG. I was hoping for some relief in Covid testing.. we are all vaccinated.. I have a feeling this is going to get lifted after we get back :)

  11. Roamingredcoat

    I am guessing this as much a 'carrot' to encourage HI vaccinations as it is to control potential cases? With a lot of industry dependent on tourism, trying to get the remaining eligible to vaccinate with potential improvement to the economy makes sense. Whether many locals want that tourism and it'll work is another thing.

  12. jashah

    I wonder if the inflated Hawaii hotel prices will drop towards normal once the occupancy limits are removed?

  13. Carol

    I agree
    We are travelling to Hawaii on 6/19 and have all been fully vaccinated its a pity that we still have to have the NAAT test rater than a quick test which would take the anxiety out of getting the result back in time for the final leg of our trip.
    Especially as Hawaii has over 67% of people who have received at least the first dose.

  14. Linda Horn

    I don’t understand why 60% of the Hawaiian people have to be vaccinated in order for transpacific travelers to come without pre-testing. I think transpacific travelers who have had both of their shots and have proof of that should be allowed to enter Hawaii without pre-testing.

  15. No tan for me

    My wife and bought airline tickets awhile ago and we are not vaccinated due to religious beliefs and won’t do the testing for the same reason. The restrictions have not been lifted enough to allow us to fly and both Alaska airlines and Hawaii airlines says to bad and won’t refund our money. And we know when we don’t show up at the airport they will resell out seats so they are double dipping

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That Guy

Because Ben doesn't work for free? Just a guess.

Hepworth

This may actually disincentivize Hawaiians from getting vaccinated. There is a large population who would prefer that the mainlanders stay there.

Luke

Wonder if the single shot JnJ vaccine is being counted as just 1st shot so then is looking as if hasnt completed the "fully vaccinated" requirement.

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