Could Hawaii Safe Travels Program End With Pending Changes?

As you have heard, all US airline passengers could soon need proof of Covid-19 status before stepping on board. If enacted, that will include flights to Hawaii. A bill proposed in the U.S. Senate is pending.

At present, domestic air passengers are not subject to any COVID requirement nationally. Hawaii has its rules, known as Hawaii Safe Travels, wherein proof of US vaccination or testing is required, but only avoids mandatory quarantine. As we have said many times, scrutiny of air travelers before they can fly domestically is wholly within the federal government’s purview and cannot be enforced either by states, including Hawaii, or the airlines. In other words, Hawaii can require that visitors comply with one of three options, but can’t require proof of vaccination or testing in order to fly here.

According to a recent Harris poll, legislation to require proof of COVID status for air travel is supported by 64% of Americans. The new bill (the US Air Travel Public Safety Act) would require that airlines verify that all passengers have either digital or paper proof of being fully vaccinated, have a recent negative COVID test or fully recovered from the disease. The airlines would be required to collect contact tracing information, something that the CDC previously proposed but that the airline industry has resisted. Airlines argued that any additional restrictions placed on domestic flights would be bad for travel.

“Ensuring that air travelers protect themselves and their destination communities from this disease is critical to prevent the next surge, particularly if we confront new, more virulent variants of COVID-19.” — US Senator Diane Feinstein.

Another goal of the bill is to align a national standard with new international air standards being deployed starting in November.

Where Hawaii Safe Travels fits in.

If passed, this new requirement will be largely duplicative with Hawaii Safe Travels and would result in either its elimination or significant modification. The only other aspect of Hawaii Safe Travels not accommodated within the proposed legislation is the questionably useful health questionnaire that Hawaii arrivals must complete within 24 hours of travel to the islands.

Feinstein said, “this bill complements similar travel requirements already in place for all air passengers – including Americans – who fly to the United States from foreign countries. This includes flights from foreign countries with lower COVID-19 rates than many U.S. states.”  Not mentioned, however, is the overlap with the Hawaii Safe travels program.

International arrival requirements in US Mainland and Hawaii.

Starting next month, the US is to require all foreign travelers boarding flights to anywhere in the US, including Hawaii, will need to show proof of vaccination status plus a negative Covid-19 test. Also, new, any COVID-19 vaccine approved for emergency use by the World Health Organization will now be accepted for travel to the US.

US travelers returning to the US, including Hawaii.

At the same time, US citizens and permanent residents will only require proof of a negative COVID test taken within 72 hours of departure to the US.

Travelers not fully vaccinated will still be able to fly to the US with added testing and contact tracing requirements. Those not vaccinated will be required to complete testing within 24 hours of boarding a US-bound flight plus an additional test upon arrival. We have not seen details yet of how the arrival tests or children too young to be vaccinated will be handled.

We look forward to your thoughts.

94 thoughts on “Could Hawaii Safe Travels Program End With Pending Changes?”

  1. Hello
    I will be arriving in Hawaii to Honolulu then to Kauai with 2 others I’m supporting. We have all safe travel done along with our downloaded Vaccine cards. Will we still have to do a Covid test before arriving or is this all we need to do ? We will be arriving November 8th 2021 and leaving November 15th

  2. I live on Big Islan & had to fly to Calif. for funeral service. I got my vacations in Hawaii. Do still have to take COVID test before flying home to Hawaii?

  3. My son was born & raised in Hawaii. His mainland family of 5 all had Covid-19 last year, and all fully recovered. Recent studies show that natural immunity is >20x that of those fully vaccinated. Requiring vaccinations of those who already have immunity, is, in a word: Nuts. I’m a physician MD, licensed in 8 States, including Hawaii, & I am Not anti-vac; I’ve had 3 Covid-19 vaccinations.

    1. With respect JohnW, the jury is still out on efficacy of natural vs. vaccine antibody production, but there is no argument that natural + vaccine stimulated antibodies is the best public health advice. Thus, proof of vaccination is the more prudent approach.

    2. Not so sure that 700,000+ that have passed from covid, plus to long term sick would agree with you John.

      1. If you look at the international average death rates for 2019 compared with 2020, the actual deaths from CV-19 are more than four times the official number. Deaths at home. Homeless. Rural pops. And India!

    3. John, you will not convince some of what you say. They would rather live in their fearful world, not the science world. If the mainstream media didn’t say it, its not true. I believe you and I have several that have had it and were tested, and their immunity was very high. As a nurse, I am amazed at the lack of trust in the true science. I too am not an anti-vac.

      1. Aloha Sheila. I don’t think that anyone was questioning whether having CV-19 provides a level of immunity. That level obviously varies depending on the severity of the case, the age of the individual and preceding health status. What has been proven effective for those who have had CV-19 is that natural + vaccine provides greater immunity than either natural or vaccine alone for those who have not had a case.

        Since you are not an anti-vac., shouldn’t you applaud those who err on the side of caution and get a jab? We are still early into this novel coronavirus. It’s mutation pattern and longer-term effects from having CV-19 are not well understood because it is novel, but the damage to lung, heart in some and even nervous systems should be cause enough for prudence and kuleana.

  4. I’ve revised my flights to Hilo in December. I’ve gotten the 3 shots from Pfizer and have the card. What else must I do to fly in Dec. Mahalo

    1. Hi Joyce.

      You’ll need to follow the Safe Travels protocol for uploading that information and the health questionnaire. Don’t forget to get a pre clearance wristband from your airline at your departure, which will save you time on arrival.


  5. How did we ever survive and control smallpox, polio, plague, and a host of other human maladies inflicting man throughout the ages without someone ever telling us we needed a card to carry?

    “Covid-19 teaches us that we are all global citizens connected by a single virus that recognizes none of our natural or man-made diversity: not the colour of our skin, nor our passports, or the gods we worship.”
    – Abiy Ahmed

    1. At least the first three were taken care of by requiring children be vaccinated as a condition of entering school. Wasn’t alive during the plague, so…as for smallpox, it wasn’t finally eliminated until the final remote populations were reached in the early 70’s. No card needed because everyone was part of the solution rather than residing on their private island.

    2. We didn’t politicize the fight. We just all got vaccinated as soon as the vaccine was available without any complaints about losing out “rights”.

  6. The Governor has said, he’s not willing to open without restriction until he sees a return of the 600 health workers from the mainland and the removal of the temporary tents from around the hospitals. I can certainly understand where he’s coming from.

  7. Wish Big Island would reestablish its original program to stop tourist coming to see volcano. This seems important as cases rise! The ridiculousness of allowing tourists within the park at this time either high rates of sulfuric gases that have potential to harm or kill , the particles of glass like substances in air too. Tourists dont really have knowledge of high level of danger so park should close! To allow tourism to park is insanity to me! This is like a super spreader for native/ locals just seems time to close island off from outside so they can handle the case load of covid/ delta already there. Implement education of vax as to many here false narratives.

  8. Preventing passengers that are far more likely to spread a potentially deadly disease from doing so is no more a violation of their rights
    then denying a passenger who is drunk the right to fly. Getting vaccinated is the best way to protect “our freedoms” not an attach on them.

  9. Aloha BOH Bro’s

    Today while you were dealing with hair on fire comments on this subject I went skydiving.

    Got half dozen jumps in awesome day.


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