Starting Monday, the Covid requirements on Maui have again changed. In a sudden reversal, Maui just dropped its recent booster requirement in determining what is considered fully vaccinated. But what does that mean for Hawaii visitors and the Safe Travels program with which all visitors must comply?
Will boosters still be required for Hawaii visitors?
Hawaii’s Governor Ige has again gone radio silent on his latest plans. Ugg. About two weeks ago he confirmed without ambiguity once again that boosters would soon be required. At that time, neither the governor nor the Lt. Governor, however, addressed exactly when that would happen. But Honolulu mayor Rick Blangiardi spoke up instead, announcing “the targeted date for that is February 18.”
Are more changes afoot as Hawaii covid cases plummet?
When last we heard from the governor, he said the hold-up was due to the complexity of implementing the booster requirement within Safe Travels. Ige said then the state was “working through what the requirements would be to allow us to identify whether an individual is up to date in their vaccinations..and what would be required to manually evaluate that status, and looking for ways to automate the assessment of whether someone has gotten all of their vaccination shots, including their boosters.”
Ige has said repeatedly that he would afford travelers two weeks’ notice of the booster shot requirements. But all that was before Omicron appeared to peak then began its decline. So now, it is completely unclear what Hawaii will be doing.
Until further notice, Hawaii requires only either 1) a primary dose of vaccine or 2) a PCR test within 72 hours of the transpacific flight, to avoid quarantine in Hawaii. The testing exemption should continue to be available even after boosters are added to the vaccination exemption. All travelers must comply with the specific testing and trusted partner requirements of its Safe Travels program.
Maui reversal was announced yesterday with three days’ notice.
The Maui mayor cited a reduction in cases and fewer hospitalizations for his change in plans that take effect on February 7, saying, “the showing of proof of updated vaccinated including boosters to dine in restaurants will no longer be required.”
Since the change to require boosters was announced last month, it became mandated for those dining indoors at restaurants and bars and exercising at gyms. Now, the only requirement will be the primary vaccination series.
The number of Covid cases in Hawaii has been on a rapid decline, down from its recent highs by 80% or more.
Honolulu retains requirements for restaurants, bars, and gyms.
Honolulu is the other county that has vaccination requirements. The Safe Access Oahu program mandates that customers at restaurants, bars, gyms, theaters, and other businesses must either provide proof of primary vaccination or negative COVID test results in the past 48 hours.
What do you think is coming next?
It just isn’t clear whether the state still intends to implement a booster requirement for Hawaii visitors. Or, will that plan now be scrapped.