Safe Travels program ends March 26; assessment underway on indoor masking
March 1, 2022, 2:03 PM HST
* Updated March 3, 5:48 AM
Governor David Ige today announced an end to the state’s Safe Travels Hawaiʻi program for domestic travel when the state’s current emergency proclamation related to COVID-19 ends on March 25, 2022; but he left the door open to potentially extend the state’s indoor mask mandate.
While travel will become easier, the governor said an assessment is still underway to determine how the state will move forward on indoor masking guidelines.
Gov. Ige made the announcements during a press conference this afternoon in which he provided an update to emergency measures related to COVID-19. Gov. Ige said the updates come as the state continues to see falling virus activity in the community, and a reduction in hospital case counts across the state.
According to his announcement:
- Safe Travels ends after March 25: As of Saturday, March 26, at 12:01 a.m., the mandatory quarantine for incoming passengers and the Safe Travels program will end. Passengers arriving from any domestic destination will not have to show proof of vaccination or a pre travel test. They will not have to create a Safe Travels account or provide travel information and trip details as they have been. All pre and post arrival screening will end. This includes post-boarding screening at the airports by participating airlines. This is for domestic travel only, and does not apply to international travelers who must follow federal guidelines. All Safe Travels requirements must still be met by incoming domestic passengers on and prior to March 25.
- Testing for state and county employees ends: After March 25, state and county employees will no longer need to provide vaccination status or negative test results to their county or state departments or agencies.
- No testing or proof of vaccination status at state facilities: After March 25, no proof of vaccination or negative test result will be required for visitors to state properties.
“These requirements were put in place in August of 2021 in response to the delta surge, and because of them and our community’s efforts, we were successful in lowering the number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations,” said Gov. Ige.
- The indoor mask mandate will continue through March 25, 2022. The state DOH is reviewing the requirements and suggestions by the CDC. Gov. Ige said the state will make a public announcement at the appropriate time for changes.
“I do know that across the country, other jurisdictions have dropped their mask requirements,” said Gov. Ige. “We will continue the indoor mask requirements through March 25. The state Department of Health is reviewing the requirements, and the changes in the mask requirements and suggestions by the CDC. We continue to monitor the COVID cases as well as the hospital status, and will be moving forward based on that information,” he said.
“We will continue to closely monitor the outcomes to changes made to programs all across the country and the recommendations of the CDC before making statewide indoor mask requirement changes here in the islands,” said Gov. “Masks will continue to be required for indoor work places and airports even with Safe Travels, and employee vaccination and testing requirements going away.”
On Monday, Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi announced the sunset of Oʻahu’s Safe Access program as of 11:59 p.m. on March 5, 2022; and on Friday, Maui Mayor Michael Victorino said he was repealing Maui’s Public Health Emergency rules, effective today.
When asked if there are any outstanding rules still in place that have not yet been removed as the counties work towards getting back to a greater sense of normalcy, here’s how the four mayors responded:
- Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino: “We have decided to open up all of our smaller community centers, and phase the big ones in over the next month or two, watching numbers and also watching case counts in the hospital. We believe that we need the time to just make sure we methodically and systematically open up–that we keep our community safe and healthy, and then we go right into the graduation season for which many of these community centers are used. So we want to make sure they are available when they are most needed for the graduation season.”
- City & County of Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi: “We have no restrictions going forward past Saturday night. Safe Access Oʻahu was our very last restriction. We had one restriction during the month of January for large indoor gatherings in which we required any gathering over 1,000 have space for at least 2,000 and on upwards from there; but we are totally open come Saturday night with no restrictions, and hopefully a return to normalcy.”
- Hawaiʻi County Mayor Mitch Roth: “As of yesterday, the County of Hawaiʻi dropped all of their COVID restrictions. We are just going under what the governor has in [his] proclamation.”
- Kauaʻi County Mayor Derek Kawakami: “One of the things that defines Hawaiʻi is being able to celebrate our first baby lūʻau and having our weddings, and coming together as ʻohana and family members. For many months, the only restriction was really on the large gatherings. As of today, we’ve dropped restrictions, so we’re urging families to be careful, take necessary precautions, but really, that’s the last restriction we had.”
Gov. Ige concluded, “If there is one thing that you can take away from today’s announcement is this: The pandemic is not over. Tragically, we continue to see those that we know and love continue to suffer from COVID-19. In the month of February, we reported 143 COVID related deaths–and each one is a tragic loss to our community,” said Gov. Ige.
“I want to emphasize this–you do not need an emergency proclamation to take precautions–and I think all of us have learned what we need to do to keep ourselves and our family heathy and safe. And all of us know the actions that we can take individually that make a difference for our community,” he said.