HONOLULU (KHON2) — A total of 12 million passengers were screened at Hawaii’s airports since October, 2020 through the Safe Travels program.
That will no longer be the case.
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Providing proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test was dropped as a requirement to fly into Hawaii on Saturday, March 26. Travelers to the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport had mixed emotions about the development.
Some were concerned and said they were unsure, but others said their trip to the Islands hinged on fewer restrictions.
“It makes me feel tremendously warm and wonderful because we wanted to come here earlier but we didn’t feel like taking the COVID test,” said Phoenix resident Job Long, “so that’s why I scheduled my travel time for today!”
Long’s son is in the Navy and stationed on Oahu so he likes to visit as much as possible. He is vaccinated but said Hawaii’s various restrictions were a burden on his loved ones.
“Matter of fact, one of my family members didn’t want to come because they didn’t want to go through the mask thing and all that,” Long said.
Others had a different opinion. Some said Hawaii has a unique ability to protect its residents by mandating travelers be vaccinated or tested.
“Oh yes, you should be required.” Coeur d’Alene resident Farah Vega said.” Especially when you’re in an island in a more secluded population, it’s a way to protect your own people that are within this confined geographic area.”
One airport greeter told KHON2 that passengers were less stressed on Saturday than the past year and a half. His job runs much smoother as well.
“I been looking forward to it a lot,” Jonah Baclaan said of the end of Safe Travels. “It’s a much faster process now and a lot more people are coming in and the job process part is being sped up now.
Another visitor said he planned his trip to the islands as soon as he learned the restrictions were dropping.
“And I was like, ‘Well that’s really convenient for me, right?’ The vaccine has proven to be effective enough for people and, you know, people can make their own choices at that point,” said Seattle resident Alex Malapitan.
Concerned minds pointed out that those who travel do not just have themselves to think about.
Get more coronavirus news: COVID vaccines, boosters and Safe Travels information
“If you are not within the high-risk population, yeah you’re like, ‘Oh yeah, I’ll be fine,'” Vega said. “But then what about your parents, your grandparents, or the baby that was just born in less than six months?”