Hawaii moved one step closer to approving vaccine passports for travel last week, with the governor detailing how they could eventually be used in place of current quarantine measures.
Gov. David Ige said, in time, travelers will be able to upload proof of vaccination to participate in Hawaii's Safe Travels program. The exception has to be approved by the director of the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency, Ige wrote on Friday in the state's 19th emergency proclamation.
The timeline to implement vaccine passports isn't immediately clear.
Currently, Hawaii allows visitors to skip quarantine if they get tested before traveling at a "trusted partner" site. Those heading to Maui will also soon have to take a second test upon arrival at the airport, while Kauai offers travelers discounts to local businesses if they volunteer to take a second test three days after arriving.
It may be awhile before mainland travelers can take advantage of Hawaii's vaccine quarantine exception, but Lt. Gov. Josh Green told Hawaii News Now the state hopes to open it up to inter-island travelers by May 1, with the goal of eventually opening it to trans-Pacific travelers. The updated guidance comes nearly two months after Green first said the state was exploring the idea of vaccine passports.
Green added that while unvaccinated travelers would still be able to come with a pre-travel test, the vaccine passport "will be an easier way to travel."
Earlier this month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said vaccinated Americans could travel freely and do not need to self-isolate unless required by their local jurisdiction.
Mufi Hannemann, the president and CEO of the Hawaii Tourism and Lodging Association, wrote on the group's website that "Vaccine passports are not mandatory, do not discriminate, and will not strip any person of their inalienable rights."
In fact, they would be a boost to the economy, Hannemann told Hawaii News Now.
"Businesses have lost a lot of money during this whole period here so there's a lot to recoup," Hannemann said. "But more importantly, we're anxious to get this economy moving forward in a safe and healthy manner."
Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she's not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.
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