Hawaii Ends Testing July 8 For Those Vaccinated

Hawaii Booms, Vaccine And “Safe Travels” Effectiveness Wanes, Variant Troubles Brew

Amidst a growing number of both the Omicron and Delta variants both on the mainland and here in Hawaii, for now, at least, Hawaii travel continues to excel in attracting visitors. But there could be a mess brewing with Safe Travels which is one of our topics today.

In spite of the 12 cases of Omicron already detected in Hawaii, and a growing number anticipated, Hawaii’s airlines are approaching the holidays with much to feel good about. And if we hadn’t just learned of Omicron, it would be that much busier. Hawaii is set to track at or above 2019 domestic travel levels going forward, barring anything unforeseen.

All of us, including the Hawaii travel industry, are trying to learn to cope with Covid and an unknown number of future variants that may occur before it hopefully goes away quietly. And yet, as we have seen in the past couple of weeks, travel restrictions, no matter how quickly they are implemented nor how severe they are, do not serve to stop the spread of new variants.

Will Hawaii update Safe Travels rules as cases grow and vaccine effectiveness wanes? 

The protection offered by Covid vaccines is waning over time. This now further complicates the current Hawaii Safe Travels rules. Someone fully vaccinated two months ago is now said to have significantly better protection against Covid than someone vaccinated six or eight months ago, let alone the superior protection we are told is offered to those who have had recent Covid boosters. Then too there is a case for natural immunity, with its protection which is also said to wane over time.

Therefore the question remains as to whether Hawaii might seek to update the Safe Travels rules with regard to the fast-changing information becoming available. And, can Hawaii move on its own in that regard, without waiting for the federal government to update its definition of fully vaccinated or recovered?

Testing for domestic flights remains on hold nationally.

Last week new Covid testing requirements were implemented for all international flights to the United States. Most of the traveling public would like to see some mandate for testing on domestic flights, but lawmakers seem disinclined. And how that would even work, remains a mystery. Read on for an on-airport testing idea.

Why this could be a mess brewing.

Vaccination and recovery verification standards may need to be updated soon. Are Hawaii airport personnel equipped to deal with these matters if standards become more complex, and how then might this be managed? Airlines flying to Hawaii are already providing Pre-Clear exemption wristbands for vacation-bound visitors. But how much more can they take on without causing consternation, delays, and conflicts.

Is the current 3-day “trusted partner” testing effective and will that evolve?

The key to testing is obviously to find those who are actively infected. However, based on the fact that the new federal requirements now require testing within 1-day (for all international arrivals), does Hawaii’s current 3-day rule even make sense. Furthermore, if Hawaii moves away from its strict (“trusted partner”) testing requirements and opts for a shorter interval between testing and flying, what tests would be approved? The variety of available tests results in differing levels of specificity and sensitivity, which could lead to more uncertainty when interpreting and accepting test results.

On-site airport testing prior to boarding?

Some have suggested recently that adding on-site airport testing, perhaps following the TSA security screening process, could make the most sense both for Hawaii and nationally.

Hawaii Safe Travels (in whatever form) is here to stay for a long time.

To effectively control current and future outbreaks, the Hawaii Safe Travels program will stay in effect. Remaining hawk-eyed is currently the best way to mitigate Covid. Relaxing the Safe Travels rules appears to be off the table for Hawaii.

That is probably true no matter what news there is tomorrow, whether it is good or bad. One thing we’ve learned is that the next news cycle may bring more or less trouble.

Please let us know your thoughts!

46 thoughts on “Hawaii Booms, Vaccine And “Safe Travels” Effectiveness Wanes, Variant Troubles Brew”

  1. Just read in the Hawaii Magazine email that visitors and residents returning to the islands do not need to fill out the Safe Travels Health Questionnaire prior to departure. Is that accurate? Where does a person check to see if they need to complete any paperwork and if mandatory testing for Covid would go into place beforehand? We leave for Maui in 40 days and want to be prepared as much as possible. We just hope our flights don’t get canceled. Mahalo!

  2. There seems to be a lot of experts in this string of messages. I myself, am not an expert on COVID. I chose to get vaccinated just in case it might save one life, I choose to wear a mask just in case it might save one life, I choose to social distance, just in case it might save one life. If you are an expert and absolutely know without a doubt on either side of this argument, then I applaud you for your stance. If you are like me and not an expert, then do what you think best and move on!

  3. Maybe people should be weighed before they get on a plane? No one seems to want to address the fact that 50% of our population is overweight or obese. Being overweight leads to numerous health issues hence “Underlying issues”. I’m a health resident whom has been traveling to and from my home on Kauai. There are several diseases and issues “Scientists” are finding on those of us whom have been vaccinated. I’m not getting a booster, and it won’t stop me from continuing my travels.

    1. I understand your concern. However, fat people don’t choose to be overweight. Their condition is often rooted in trauma and food can be comforting as in the term comfort food. You however have chosen not to be boosted posing a health threat to yourself and the people around you when you travel. The covid vaccines have shown to be less effective after 6-8 months. Please get boosted before your resistance wanes.

  4. I used to think of this as a deals site. Now I find well written news and commentary. It is really helpful. My worry is that omicron, being the most contagious virus ever known, is going to rip through us. 70 %of people who got it were double vaccinated in South Africa. It’s already on Oahu so I guess time will tell. I have over a 100 k in the air and I am seeing widespread mask fatigue and people who are sneaking mask removals etc. We need a vaccine mandate for flying!

  5. Please stop with the how should we end the freedom hundreds of thousands died for over a cold virus. Hardly anybody still believes all of this.

    This article could cost the author his or her credibility in a few years.

  6. How about we quit panicking over this “pandemic” and go back to “normal”? Masks have no effect, if they did then California would be much better off than Florida. There is no statistical difference, so masks are a waste of time. Mandating vaccination to fly? What about people who are allergic to ingredients in the vaccines? They don’t fly? That makes no sense, too.

    1. You decry “self appointed experts” and then make a wholly unsubstantiated claim that masks and social distancing don’t work despite proof to the contrary. An article (link below) found on webmd.com shows that “ Sept. 7, 2021 — A large, real-world test of face masks in Bangladesh shows that masks reduce community spread of COVID”. Vaccinations work as evidenced by the lower rate of infection in highly vaccinated states.


  7. Safe Travels, as with much of the anti-COVID debacle, remains what it was at its genesis; a politically crafted illusion of a government “saving” its people. It didn’t work then, it doesn’t work now. Mask, lockdowns, 6ft. rules, no travel, testing, and even the exalted vaccines have failed Hawaii. Indeed failed everywhere. COVID flourishes.

    Steve Shahbazian writing in Green and Pleasant Land noted: “It doesn’t matter whether it’s true, only that it’s believable.” So it is with Safe Travels.

  8. My brother who has both vaccine doses and his booster just came down with Covid last week. His first test was negative and then he took a second from a different lab and it was positive. These tests are not reliable & even the vaccinated can pass it on to others as he did to my mom and his wife who are also both fully vaccinated & boosted. But my husband and I who recovered from Covid December 2020 didn’t catch it. Natural immunity needs to be acknowledged by now & recognized as protection!

  9. Airport testing is impractical. As others have said, can you even imagine the mess that would ensue?
    Even the 24 hour before departure testing would be a detriment to the vast majority of people. Implement either one of these 2 ideas and kiss travel to Hawaii goodbye and the jobs that go with it.

    Even the governor of Colorado stated recently that the majority of the country has put Covid-19 behind us and are getting on with our lives.

    Mahalo, BOH. We’re returning to Maui in 5 weeks!

  10. Please do the research on Omicron variant. The symptoms are extremely mild. Very few hospitalizations anywhere in the world. There are remedies for Covid that no one is talking about. This is all nonsense. There will never be a legal travel ban within the US as long as the constitution is still active. Why trust politicians? Trust the science. Covid is no longer a world threat. Governments are a bigger threat.

  11. I support efforts to contain Covid but the evidence indicates that the rise in infections is mostly fueled by Hawaiian residents returning from travel to the mainland. Perhaps new restrictions should target this group before denying Hawaii the financial benefits of tourism.

    1. New restrictions to target residence free will to travel off island and return home? If residents returning can bring it here, so can tourists and business people. We don’t need more discrimination, those of us who aren’t candidates for these new medical treatments, it’s difficult enough. I shouldn’t have to read on here if I can return home from visiting family on mainland for Christmas without fear of some cage in my ability to return home. I already quarantine each time, & other precautions.

    2. Thanks for your concerns to keeping Covid out of HI. Restrictions to target residence would be discriminatory. Residents returning can bring it here, so can tourists & business people. For those of us who aren’t candidates for these new medical treatments, it’s difficult enough. I shouldn’t have to read on here if I can return home after visiting family on mainland for Christmas. I already quarantine each time, & take many other precautions. Targeting Hawaii residence is not a solution or legal.

    3. Thanks again for your concern with Hawaii, but financial benefits don’t outweigh residents’ rights to travel in/out of an island state.

  12. I recently traveled to the islands, and though it is a bit of a pain to dig for the vac info and ID on entering any restaurant, don’t stop doing it. I was happy to see much better mask compliance than in my home state. Keep your guard up. If rules get stricter, better for those who live in The islands. We aren’t done with this thing.

  13. On sight airport testing prior to boarding? Can you imagine the mess and the delays?. Instant tests take 15 minutes per person and what about those who show up as the doors are closing to board? Do you wait on their test results which, by the way, are not without false positives or false negatives? You think there are problems with irate passengers now, just imagine if this gets implemented. Who out there wants a TSA agent administering a medical tests ? Want to kill travel…this will do it.

    1. I believe protecting Hawaii from deadly Covid infections surpasses the inconvenience of showing up early for a flight to be tested. Unruly passengers should be arrested, charged and blacklisted from ALL airlines serving our country.

      1. “Deadly Covid infections”!? If masking and distancing actually worked this would have been over at least 18 months ago. And If vaccines worked then there would have been little or now transmission by those that actually got the shot but the reality is that you can get, transmit to others, and even die after getting the vaccine so stop living in fear! False Expectations About Reality!

        1. States with higher vaccination rates definitely have fewer per capita Covid infection and death rates. The vaccines work but if 40% of the people refuse to be vaccinated Covid will be with us forever. Vaccinations benefit society ad a whole at very little discomfort to the vaccinated.

          1. My present problem with the current vaccination effort is not with the vaccines, but with the vaccinators.

            Decisions which affect the individual’s health and life should not be forced upon him by self-appointed experts who are not in a position to be required to stand responsible should they err.

          2. States with higher vaccination rates definitely have fewer per capita Covid infection and death rates

            You need to look that one up.

  14. Aloha Rob and Jeff. Mahalo for the updates. You are both on it and we all appreciate you both. If the 1 day testing is implemented for Hawaii travel, then I would say that would be a further deterrent for travel there.For some, anyway. Would ease overcrowding on the islands. I think it would create a lot of anxiety for most travellers. Mel Kalikimaka!

    1. I am more concerned with protecting Hawaii from Covid then I am with the anxiety of impatient travelers who feel entitled to travel despite any effects their travel might have on others.

      1. Tony, please do yourself a favor and research COVID stats on the CDC website. The groups at risk are the elderly, obese, unvaccinated and those with severe health preconditions. If you’re in those groups you should stay home. If not, live your life outside of the bubble.

        1. People who are old or have underlying conditions did not choice their status. The unvaccinated are so by choice and do pose a danger to society. They should not travel.

    1. Really. Obviously you know nothing about the holocaust. Please refrain on any comments regarding that until you educate yourself.

    2. Feel so fortunate to have access to vaccines that can keep me alive – a wristband to show that we are vaccinated seems little enough .. there are many other countries that would love to have the vaccines..

      1. Guessing that you have missed that those that got the vaccine have gotten ill, transmitted it to others and have indeed died after getting so…..

    3. This has zero to do with murdering people as in the holocaust, in fact it’s the exact opposite, the intent is to save lives. No thank you for the completely false equivalence.

      1. How? Nothing has stopped this from happening. Masks and distancing, which even the CDC has admitted that distance was an arbitrary number without any basis in science to back it up. And last I checked, people are still getting the Vid, transmitting it to others, and yes, even dying from it.

    4. The Holocaust really? Asking someone to make sure they are safe from Covid is equal to someone branded and then executed?
      Gentleman we have a problem. People do not get that it is just not about them. I am in California with my 93yo father with stage 4 prostate cancer. It is about people like him.
      Aloha for the forum.

      Have a nice holiday

    5. First, Mahalo, Rob and Jeff for your always informative reports.

      However, Francis, please don’t EVEN compare wearing a wristband to the Holocaust! Do you realize how insensitive and insulting your statement is? Honestly, I find your post to be disturbing.

    6. Wow what a terrible/misinformed comment. The wristband is to make it easier for YOU upon arrival, but if you don’t want to be “marked” then wait in line when you get to Hawaii. I guess you might be one of those types who’d complain that after winning the lottery they have to go pickup the check.

    7. Then don’t go. Your assumed right to insignificant inconveniences stops where it blows in the face of public safety. And this is from a Jew who lost relatives to the murdering Nazis.

    8. Francis after reading your “Holocaust Comment” and than the reaction from the Jewish commenters I can’t stop thinking about Larry David’s HBO program Curb Your Enthusiasm.

      “Wearing a wristband like a marked individual like during Holocaust so no thank you” That’s such a Larry David through away line that gets him chastised by all his jewish friends.

      I can’t stop laughing.

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