Hawaiʻi Welcomes International Travel Under New Federal Requirements, Starting Nov. 8
By Wendy Osher
The State of Hawaiʻi will welcome international travelers under the new federal requirements starting next Monday, Nov. 8, 2021, according to an announcement made today during a press briefing hosted by Governor David Ige.
“For just over a year, the Safe Travels Hawaiʻi program has allowed passengers to bypass the travel quarantine period with either a pre-travel test or providing proof of vaccination. The Safe Travels program has been an important part of the state’s defense against the virus that causes COVID-19,” said Gov. Ige.
“Last week the federal government announced new requirements for international travelers entering the United States. As of Nov. 8, 2021, vaccination and testing requirements will be in place for all travelers entering the United States,” said Gov. Ige during a press briefing on Tuesday.
Gov. Ige said that as a result, the state of Hawaiʻi will align with federal requirements for entry into the US for international passengers traveling directly to Hawaiʻi as of Nov. 8. The Hawaiʻi Safe Travels program will remain in place for domestic travel.
International travelers who enter the country elsewhere and will be transiting to Hawaiʻi, will be treated as domestic passengers for the purposes of the Safe Travels Hawaiʻi program, “which means that they must comply with our program’s requirements–either be vaccinated, or have a negative NAAT PCR test,” said Gov. Ige.
Maui Mayor Weighs In on Non-Essential and International Travel:
We asked Mayor Victorino his thoughts on the return of non-essential travel to the state (which resumed Nov. 1) and the return of international travel, which is set to resume on Nov. 8.
“We’ve never really been a high destination for international travel, and especially from the Far East–Japan, Korea, China, the Philippines–we have some, but not a great deal. So we still, our primary markets for Maui County have been the West Coast and US Mainland travelers. So I’m looking for some uptick in that area, but not a lot like Oʻahu and some others [like] Kona on the Big Island where they have the entry points and a lot more of the international travelers come in,” said Mayor Victorino during a press briefing on Oct. 19, 2021.
“As far as essential workers, and some of the reductions in federal mandates, the state still has Safe Travels, so I’m counting on that to help protect our county and our community throughout the changes… as the visitor industry starts to come back and the holiday season [approaches], we’ll do it safely and with respect,” said Mayor Victorino.
Gov. Ige said Hawaiʻi continues to have amongst the lowest COVID-19 infection rates and death rates in the country. “It is because of so many people in our community have done the responsible thing–got vaccinated and abide by our restrictions and requirements,” said Gov. Ige.
“We do want to welcome more travelers, especially those from international sites. We are ready. We don’t expect an immediate surge in international travelers. We do expect to see increases through the months of November, and December and into next year,” said Gov. Ige.
The following guidelines were released by the state to highlight and explain upcoming modifications:
Direct International Travel to Hawaiʻi
Starting Nov. 8
- Non-US citizens traveling directly to Hawaiʻi from an international destination must present BOTH a vaccination records AND a negative COVID-19 test result (NAAT or antigen) within three days of boarding a flight to the United States.
- US citizens flying directly to Hawaiʻi from an international destination have two options:
- Fully vaccinated travelers must provide proof of vaccination and present a test taken within three days of boarding flight to US; OR
- Travelers not fully vaccinated must provide proof of negative COVID-19 test result within one day of boarding flight to US.
There will be no additional State of Hawaiʻi requirements for passengers flying directly into Hawaiʻi from an international destination. The airlines will screen passengers prior to their departure to the US If foreign passengers fail to meet BOTH requirements and if US citizens fail to meet ONE of the two requirements, they will not be allowed to board the flight. Once in Hawaiʻi, the CDC will conduct compliance checks.
Note: Tests do NOT have to be done with Trusted Travel Partners under the new international federal requirements, but they MUST be done with a Trusted Travel Partner for unvaccinated domestic travel.
Non-Direct International Travel to Hawaiʻi
Starting Nov. 8
International passengers entering the US from another state or territory will be treated as domestic travelers when entering the State of Hawaiʻi. The Safe Travels Hawaiʻi program remains in place for domestic travelers.
Current Safe Travels Hawaiʻi requirements for domestic travelers include:
- Creating a Safe Travels Hawaiʻi account on a digital device
- Entering trip details
- Filling out a health form, and
- Attesting that all information is correct.
Currently, travelers may bypass the state’s mandatory 10-day quarantine in one of two ways:
- Upload a vaccination document; or
- Upload a negative NAAT test result.
- The test must be taken by a Trusted Travel Partner within three days of departure for the State of Hawaiʻi.
Also, beginning on Nov. 8, the State of Hawaiʻi, in alignment with the federal government, will accept vaccines approved or authorized by the US Food and Drug Administration, and vaccines listed for emergency use by the World Health Organization. A list of currently accepted vaccines is posted on the CDC’s website.
“Thanks to the people of Hawaiʻi for their patience and for taking precautions to keep our communities safe. Our state continues to see one of the lowest incidences of COVID-19 and death rates related to the virus. As more and more people are vaccinated, we are moving to ease pandemic mitigation measures – including travel restrictions– in a way that ensures the health and safety of our communities,” said Gov. Ige.