More Hawaii residents expected to travel with inter-island coronavirus vaccine exemption


HONOLULU (KHON2) — The inter-island travel exemption begins Tuesday, May 11, for those who are fully vaccinated.

No more pre-travel COVID-19 tests or concerns about getting the results in time gives hotels on neighbor islands a more competitive edge in attracting increased visitors.

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Mauna Kea Beach Hotel manager Craig Anderson says the property is coming off a busy spring break and has a stable number of bookings for summer.

Anderson says it is not just visitors who are looking forward to traveling to neighbor islands with fewer restrictions, it is also his employees.

“We know that many of our team members in our hotel and our community have not seen family in such a long time,” Anderson said. “The burden of a test is expensive for many kamaaina, so relaxing this requirement really allows families to reunite, and for loved ones to spend time with each other.”

Anderson reminds folks it is no longer as simple as walking in due to limited capacity at attractions and restaurants.

“It may be tricky to get the exact time for reservations to dine that you prefer,” Anderson said. “But if you’re flexible, chances are that you’ll be able to get a table and we’ll get you in.”

It may remain difficult for people coming from neighbor islands to find a car rental on Oahu, however. Lucky Owl Car Rental owner Sava Mankovskiy says their fleet of 175 cars is fully booked on any given day. He says the few returns leave the lot as soon as they are washed and sanitized.

Mankovskiy said, “A week or two, at least maybe three or four weeks in advance gives us a better chance for us to be able to accommodate.”

Anderson says Mauna Kea Beach Hotel and its sister property Hapuna Beach Resort have amenities, food and beverage fully open. He says they are also looking to fill more than 90 positions with a limited pool of candidates.

“Currently it’s not impacting our offerings with what we’re able to provide,” Anderson said. “But as occupancy grows, and if that situation gets worse, we may need to look at modified days and hours of operation simply because we won’t have the staff available to provide the services.”  

Information on the State’s safe travels program can be found here.

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