Hawaii will drop COVID-19 testing and quarantine rules for fully vaccinated travelers from the U.S. mainland in two weeks, Gov. David Ige announced Thursday.
When the restrictions are lifted on July 8, visitors using the quarantine exemption will have to upload their vaccination cards to a state website and bring a hard copy of their vaccination card with them, the Associated Press reported.
Travelers must be two weeks beyond their final vaccine dose to be eligible for the exemption. Visitors who are not vaccinated will still have to produce a negative coronavirus test before flying to Hawaii, the AP reported.
Ige recently said the state is expected to reach a 60% vaccination rate among all residents by July 8, a target he had previously set for allowing more vaccination travel exemptions, the AP reported.
To that end, state officials recently announced a set of incentives for people to get vaccinated, including airline tickets and restaurant discounts.
“While incentives are nice, the most important thing is that the more our people are vaccinated, we will see better health outcomes and we will get back to normal sooner,” Ige said.
On July 8, restaurants will also be able to seat up to 75% of their capacity, although social distancing rules between tables will stay in place, the governor said. People will also need to wear masks when indoors, but face coverings won’t be necessary outdoors, the AP reported.
Ige added that he will drop all pandemic restrictions when the state reaches a 70% vaccination rate.
“Case counts are coming down,” he said. “People are getting vaccinated, and there are fewer and fewer people in our community who continue to be at risk of getting infected.”
Hawaii has had one of the lowest COVID-19 infection and death rates in the nation, the AP said. But the state’s tourism-based economy has been crushed and Hawaii has had one of the highest unemployment rates in the United States.
Island mayors said their respective counties are prepared for the changes.
“We’ll be ready on July 8,” said Kauai Mayor Derek Kawakami, adding that it seemed like the island was already nearing its capacity for visitors.
“It looks like the economy is roaring back,” Kawakami said. “But for our mom and pops and our restaurants, it’s good news that they’ll be able to add more tables, add more chairs and serve more customers, because they really need that.”
Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for more on traveling during the pandemic.
SOURCE: Associated Press