Hawaii eases rules for masks, allows ocean sports
Hawaii Gov. David Ige said Tuesday people will no longer have to wear masks outdoors. The governor also said that starting June 1, he would allow ocean sports competitions like surfing contests and canoe paddling races to take place. (May 26)
The end is in sight for COVID-19 travel restrictions in Hawaii.
Vaccinated mainlanders will be able to skip COVID-19 testing and quarantines in Hawaii once the state hits a 60% vaccination rate, according to Hawaii Gov. David Ige. Once 70% of Hawaii residents are fully vaccinated, the state will drop all travel restrictions and sunset its Safe Travels program.
As of June 7, 53% of Hawaii residents were fully vaccinated and 60% had received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to Hawaii’s health department. In theory, travel restrictions could begin to ease within weeks if everyone follows up with a second dose of the vaccine.
► Flying to Maui?: Travelers will no longer be tested for coronavirus on arrival
► Best beaches: Hawaii beach picked as 2021’s best in US
“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,” Gov. Ige said in a statement.
Hawaii travel restrictions
Currently all domestic travelers, including Hawaii residents returning to the islands, need to take a Nucleic Acid Amplification Test through one of Hawaii’s certified testing partners within 72 hours of departing for Hawaii. Even if they’ve been vaccinated, they need to upload negative test results to Hawaii’s Safe Travels website before departure and carry a hard copy of the results with them to Hawaii to bypass the state’s mandatory 10-day quarantine.
It’s not over yet: Travelers arriving in Hawaii may face additional restrictions traveling between islands for a little longer. But all inter-county travel restrictions will be lifted June 15, per an emergency proclamation Gov. Ige signed Monday. Additionally, on June 15, people who were vaccinated in Hawaii will no longer need take COVID-19 tests or quarantine if they leave the islands and come back.
As the COVID-19 pandemic began to envelope the world in the spring of 2020, Hawaii imposed a quarantine on out-of-state visitors and aggressively enforced it, arresting violators and threatening them with $5,000 fines and up to a year in jail. The restrictions had their pros and cons: While Hawaii had one of the lowest infection rates in the country, its tourism industry suffered tremendously and the state unemployment rate soared from 3% to 24%. In April 2021, a year after it cratered, statistics from Hawaii’s Department of Labor showed that number was back to 8.5%.
► Southwest growing again in Hawaii: New flights on tap from Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Phoenix
In mid-October, the state allowed mainlanders to bypass quarantine with a negative COVID test result from an approved lab. Airlines rushed to add Hawaii flights back to their schedules and some, including United and Hawaiian, even coordinated COVID testing for their passengers.
Contributing: Jayme Deerwester, USA TODAY