‘I waited for this to happen’: Hawaii families reunite with coronavirus vaccine travel exemptions


LIHUE, Hawaii (KHON2) — A negative COVID-19 test is no longer needed to travel inter-island for those who are fully vaccinated.

Tuesday, May 11, was the first day of the vaccine travel exemption under Hawaii’s Safe Travels program.

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Those who arrived in Kauai said logging their COVID-19 information onto the Safe Travels website was a smooth process. Theresa and Johnny Gordines say it had been months since they visited their children and grandchildren on Oahu.

They said, the new vaccine travel exemption may bring them more time with the family.

“We’ve been fully vaccinated since far back as January,” Johnny said. “And we told our son we’re staying another day because you don’t have to take a test to come home, we might as well.”

The vaccine travel exemption will be verified upon arrival to a neighbor island.

Passengers will need to upload their CDC issued vaccination card onto the Safe Travels website to avoid delays. They will also need to include personal and flight information, as well as complete a health questionnaire before arriving.

Once a QR code is received through email, the passenger will be able to present it to officials who will be waiting at the arriving airport.

Charlene Quinones says she traveled to Oahu to visit her grandchildren after not seeing them for more than a year.

“Easy, just do your QR code and they ask for the card if they need it, took 30 seconds that’s it,” Quinones said. “I waited for this to happen so I could visit my grandchildren that I used to travel weekly.”

It is not just the loosening of restrictions that is encouraging travel between the islands. Shannon Bucasas feels safer knowing they have another layer of protection by being vaccinated when visiting her parents.

Bucasas said, “We’re actually surprising them so hopefully this doesn’t go on the news until later.”

Gov. David Ige’s office says a program for mainland travel is still being developed and it may be introduced in summer 2021.

Click here to visit the Safe Travels Hawaii website.

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