This is the most discussed aspect of Hawaii travel planning for now. Some form of Hawaii vaccination passport travel will be required for Hawaii vacations to resume to anything like normal. Visitors and residents are anxious to travel more freely and without all of the current encumbrances. Vaccines hold the hope of that happening. For those who choose not to be vaccinated, we believe that the current COVID travel rules will remain in effect either as they exist today, or as they may be modified.
Hawaii officials haven’t yet fully agreed on everything but this is definitely about to happen, and now we have more details. Do keep in mind that the state has said that vaccination will only be an option, not a requirement. That means that testing and quarantine are likely to be the other options for the foreseeable future.
Three criteria must be met to bypass quarantine according to CDC: 1) Be fully vaccinated at least two weeks prior, 2) remain within a 3-month window following receipt of the last vaccine dose, and 3) be asymptomatic since the current COVID-19 exposure. Note that this guidance, issued last week, relates only to COVID exposure and not to travel. It does however provide an indication that at this point CDC is saying that vaccine validity can be assured for 3 months. How that will relate to travel is still to be announced. At the same time, Hawaii currently has an exemption from Safe Travels requirements for those who have recovered from COVID. There too, it is exclusively for those who have recovered within the past 90 days, reaffirming that interim thinking.
Three phases to Hawaii vaccination travel from Lt. Governor Green.
Dr. Green yesterday revealed his latest plans for vaccination passport travel.
1. Essential workers who have been vaccinated will be allowed to travel without other conditions first. That could be announced at any time, and his suggestion is it will be quite soon.
2. Interisland travel will follow, and here too, it is expected soon if the Lt. Governor gets what he wants from the Governor. He said that should happen between March 1 and April 1.
3. Mainland travel will be last, and on that front, Green says he would like to see that come to fruition by May 1.
Before his latest update, Green said, “This demonstrates that they’re not worried about people, once they’ve been vaccinated, they’re not worried that they’re going to catch COVID, they’re not worried that they’re really going to spread COVID.”
Green also stated that Hawaii is awaiting a CDC report results to confirm that those who have been vaccinated are not carriers. It remains unclear whether the latest news from the CDC is adequate confirmation or not.
For now at least, CDC appears to say vaccinations valid for 3 months.
Last week, the CDC said that quarantine should be avoidable for those fully vaccinated within 3 months of the last vaccination and are asymptomatic. There was not travel guidance, as the information was related only to COVID exposure. They said, however, “Individual and societal benefits of avoiding unnecessary quarantine may outweigh the potential but unknown risk of transmission (among vaccinated individuals).”
It’s up to Governor Ige now.
The governor has yet to announce plans for vaccination-based travel and last said that Hawaii was “waiting for the science.” Ige said that the state was working on vaccination verification with two companies in the marketplace for whenever vaccine passport travel is feasible. We now know more about which company they are likely to choose.
CommonPass vaccination passport verification.
It appears that Hawaii will select CommonPass from the three companies most involved in vaccination verification. Those are Verifly, IATA Travel Pass, and CommonPass. Vaccination and testing verification are coming to Hawaii travel, whether we like it or not.
How will Hawaii vaccination travel work?
How vaccination results get integrated into the state’s present Safe Travels pre-travel testing program and website isn’t yet clear. Hawaii established that system to track test results digitally. It is considered more secure than paper results, although it is clearly not the long-term solution.
Will mask mandates remain?
Regarding masks, Green continues to say that while vaccinations will be a great boon, he anticipates Hawaii will nonetheless keep its mask mandate and other health safety measures in place for the foreseeable future or until there is herd immunity in the islands. As he pointed out, we won’t know whether someone has or hasn’t been vaccinated, and vaccination will not be required.
Are you planning a Hawaii vacation without quarantine or testing? As it’s looking now, you’ll need to do it within three months of your vaccination. Hopefully, with more guidance, that will be extended soon.
Revised on February 16, 2021