Maui Leapfrogs State To End Vaccination And Testing

Confusing New Hawaii COVID Rules Approved With Still More Changes Certain

Hawaii Gov. David Ige reappeared yesterday prior to his departure for Scotland to attend the UN COP26 Climate Change convention. He unveiled a list of changes that will have a significant impact both on mainland domestic and international travelers starting next week. Some surprise announcements will also necessarily lead to more changes that will be forthcoming this week. It was as messy and confusing as we’d expected it to be, and it appears to have been done without the buy-in from the county mayors. So read on and see what we mean.

Where was Lieutenant Governor Josh Green?

As we said yesterday, Green and Ige are like oil and water. Josh Green was apparently not invited to take part in yesterday’s announcement. Instead, lesser-known Safe Travels administrator Sherilyn Kajiwara and Hawaii Dept. of Defense head Major General Kenneth Hara joined the governor. Green’s frequent updates on Facebook did not even mention the important announcement from the governor.

Mainland travelers’ rule changes.

What changed and what else might occur this week?

The governor is lifting all restaurant, bar, and gym capacity restrictions. But, that is only in those counties that require vaccination or recent (48-hour) COVID tests as entrance requirements to those facilities. That caught both Kauai and the Big Island by surprise, and they are scrambling at this moment.

As of today, only Honolulu and Maui have implemented such vaccination/testing requirements. Kauai and the Big Island will need to remain at 50% capacity until and unless they implement the same requirements as Maui and Honolulu.

In addition, starting next week, “outdoor” dining, bars, and other establishments will no longer require either a mask mandate or social distancing. That measure is statewide and is unrelated to potential changes coming to Kauai and the Big Island. Until this goes into effect, patrons have been required to remain seated with their group, maintain 6-feet of physical distance between groups, and wear masks except when eating or drinking.

Big Island says not so fast.

Hawaii Island’s mayor said there will be no changes on that island starting next week. He did not rule out coming into alignment with Maui and Honolulu but indicated merely that it won’t be happening on November 12.

Kauai is caught off-guard by the governor’s announcement.

Kauai had not implemented vaccination or testing requirements for entry to restaurants and other facilities. Following yesterday’s announcement by the governor, Mayor Kawakami said, “unfortunately, we did not have any prior knowledge or discussions with the Governor or his team about this new Executive Order until today. We agree that it’s time for our businesses to operate at larger capacity if they choose, but it should not require another county policy or program.”

So what is going to happen on Kauai? While not entirely clear, it appears that the Garden Island will soon come into alignment with Maui and Oahu on the testing or vaccination requirements in order to move from 50% to 100% capacity.

The mayor said that the new order “essentially forces the County to implement such a policy in order to allow our local businesses to operate above 50%. We’re now in a position where we must make a quick decision.”

Yesterday’s changes will go into effect on November 12.

Ige said, “vaccination is the most widespread and important mitigation measure during this pandemic.”

Effective November 8, Hawai is to accept any vaccination that is FDA or WHO authorized.

International travel rules change effective November 8.

Testing for all passengers among other rules.

Starting November 8, in conjunction with federal government rule changes, international arrival requirements to Hawaii will be different. For non-US citizens traveling “directly” to Hawaii from another country, both proof of vaccination and a negative NAAT/Antigen COVID test within three days of boarding a flight to the US will be required.

For US citizens flying “directly” to Hawaii from abroad, fully vaccinated passengers must also provide a NAT/Antigent COVID test “taken within 72 hours” of the US-bound flight. Those US citizens not fully vaccinated are required to show proof of the same negative test “taken within 24 hours” of boarding the US-bound flight.

Hawaii Trusted Travel Partners requirement is out for international.

For international arrivals, tests must be either NAAT or Antigen but no longer need to be from a Trusted Travel Partner.

International passengers who stop en route to Hawaii will, however, then be considered domestic passengers, and will need to comply with Safe Travels rules including the Trusted Travel Partner only tests, or vaccination from within the US. That means those passengers will need to have two tests before arriving in Hawaii.

Also starting November 8, all airlines flying to the US will be required to collect and maintain international passenger contact tracing information.

87 thoughts on “Confusing New Hawaii COVID Rules Approved With Still More Changes Certain”

  1. Aloha again.
    My plan is to travel LHR-LAX 3 Jan (Covid test booked on Jan 2) Once I arrive in LAX there is a Clarity Labs Facility in TB Terminal and I’ll book a test there (when booking open). Only when the result comes in can I complete Hawaii Safe Travels documents. Overnight at LAX. Depart LAX for LIH at 8.30a.m. on Hawaiian 63 the morning of Jan 4. I hope that Hawaiian will allow me to don the wristband!
    Sounds like a plan or what?
    What do you guys think?
    Mahalofor your considered help.

    1. Hi Michael.

      Clarity says within an hour as one PCR test option. Also 3-5 hours. So it sounds workable based on those. Please let us know how it all works.


  2. Aloha Rob & Jeff.
    It’s Thanksgiving Month, so Happy Thanksgiving.
    My vacation details – Belfast – London, then London to LAX with a stopover ibefore going on to Lihue. The logistics are getting a Covid Lateral Flow test in London on January 2 for travel to LAX on January 3.. I will get a further test on arrival at LAX and depart for Lihue on January 3 That all good, I hope? Is that time enough to fill up safe travel details? Hope so!!! Mahalo for your help.

    1. Hi Michael.

      How long will you be at LAX? Do you have a test lined up with a Hawaii trusted testing partner that is an approved rapid one? And maybe a backup plan. Also do get a wrist band before boarding for Hawaii to simplify things.


  3. So, the clarification I received is that Hawaii will not follow the US Change to accept vaccinations from travelers from the majority of countries affected. An exception to vaccinations for passengers from the Pacific routes which fly direct into Hawaii but as of now, Hawaii does not accept Foreign Vaccinations from travelers who are required to connect on the mainland. The way to avoid the ban is to fly from Europe, Brazil, Mexico etc via Canada, Japan or the like.

    1. Hi Rich.

      Confusing. We do not find that in the Safe Travels documentation. Can you provide any clarification you received.



        If I’m flying through another state or territory before arriving to Hawai‘i, is that still considered direct travel because I’m on the same flight itinerary?
        No. International passengers entering the U.S. from another state or territory will be treated as domestic travelers when entering the State of Hawai‘i. You will need to participate in the State of Hawai‘i’s Safe Travels program. Click here to create a Safe Travels account…in FAQ’s.

        1. Hi Rich.

          That does for now at least appear to be correct. There are still more details to be worked out.


  4. According to Hawaii’s COVID-19 website, starting Nov 8, 2021, Hawaii will allow travelers vaccinated anywhere in the world to be exempt from quarantine and testing requirements. However, you must still fill out the Safe Travels form at and upload your proof of vaccination.

    “Any traveler who is fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in the United States or U.S. Territories (this will expand on November 8 and include all countries.) will be eligible for the quarantine exception.”

    1. Bob, your statement is true if vaccinated in the US or US territories. Foreign or US Citizens vaccinated overseas with Pfizer, Modena etc who travel to Hawaii clearing immigration on the mainland will not have their Vaccination accepted by Hawaii and need a Partner Test the same as someone without a vaccination. Hawaii only follows the US policy for flights arriving from another country. Presumably because they are covered by Federal Law and Ige cannot contest it.

  5. I agree with the first 3 commenters. Hawaii has brought this upon itself for listening to Ige, Green, and the fear mongers who are Not following the science. I own 3 timeshares in Hawaii that I have not be able to enjoy since Covid started because I Refuse to take this vaccine. Furthermore, I have had Covid and have natural antibodies. They are totally ignoring the science concerning natural antibodies. This is all about politics and Not about science.

  6. The Governor is not aligning with US Federal requirements. Passengers who have non stop flights will have foreign vaccines accepted but if you enter the USA at a mainland airport as all travelers from Europe have to do, will not have their foreign vaccination accepted. So a US citizen vaccinated overseas will not have their vaccination accepted if they change planes. This would be a clear violation of Amdt14.S1. of the US Constitution. Can you get clarification please?

    1. Hi Rich.

      How direct travel is defined has not been clarified at this point. Hopefully it will be soon.


      1. Thanks for swift reply. Hawaii will eventually have to accept foreign vaccines with FDA or WHO approval. Taking the universal IATA interpretation of a connection being flight continuation under 24 hours would lessen their burden of proof and make such regulations less likely to be immediately subject to a temporary injunction in Federal Court, Let us not forget that Air travel and Interstate travel are Federal not State matters, so deviating from Federal Policy may not be helpful to the State .

  7. So I am confused now. If I’m coming from LA to Maui, I still need my vaccination card AND a negative COVID test 72hrs prior?

    1. Hi Stacey,

      Because your itinerary is domestic, you will need only your COVID vaccination record.

      You must also enter travel details, upload your vaccination card, and fill out the Health Questionnaire on the Safe Travels Hawaii portal prior to your trip.

  8. ” That means those passengers will need to have two tests before arriving in Hawaii.”

    This is not true!

    Beginning on Nov. 8, the State of Hawaiʻi, in alignment with the federal government, will accept vaccines approved or authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and vaccines listed for emergency use by the World Health Organization. A list of currently accepted vaccines is posted on the CDC’s website. (got this email from

    1. With respect you have not read the full statement. International visitors who fly directly to Hawaii without a stop can use foreign vaccinations with a Negative Test not from a partner.Those who stop en route (to change planes) are classified as domestic passengers. The State only recognizes US Vaccinations from these pax under Safe Travels Program. They will need to get a negative covid test from a State partner before boarding their connection as their vaccination will be ignored. Lunacy.

      1. Wow I’m totally confused. I’m flying from Florida to Hilo. What is required of me. I’ve had the 3 shots and I have the covid card. Now what. I’m flying g December 3rd. Help. Making flying difficult. It’s not rocket science

        1. Hi Joyce,

          As long as you have received an FDA or WHO-approved or authorized COVID-19 vaccine from anywhere in the world, and are fully vaccinated, you will only need to:

          -Create a Safe Travels Hawaii account
          -Fill in personal, travel details
          -upload COVID vaccination record
          -Fill out Health Questionnaire (w/in 24 hrs of flight)

          All steps are done thru Safe Travels and should be complete prior to your flight.

          No need to take a test prior to travel. Have your vaccine card when traveling.

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