HONOLULU(KHON2) — Gov. David Ige announced the end of Hawaii’s Safe Travel program and several other COVID-related mandates, when the current emergency proclamation ends March 25. It’s one of the most significant steps in returning Hawaii to normal since the pandemic began two years ago.
In just three weeks Hawaii will once again be open to travelers without any restrictions. Vaccination and test requirements will also sunset for public workers. The only pandemic mandate left at the end of the month will be the indoor mask mandate.
Friday March 25, marks the end of the Safe Travels program.
“Passengers arriving from any domestic destination will not have to show proof of vax or a pretravel test and they will not have to create a Safe Travels account,” Ige explained. “They will not have to provide traveler information and pre and post arrival screening will end. This includes post boarding screening at the airports of our participating airlines.”
But Ige pointed out that international travelers are still required to adhere to federal travel requirements.
More than 11.3 million travelers have been screened since Safe Travels took effect in October 2020.
Ige credited the program and other restrictions for saving lives and keeping Hawaii’s case counts among the lowest in the country.
Tuesday’s announcement brings news many in the tourism industry were eager to hear.
“We’re very, very grateful for this change in policy to come on March 26,” Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association President Mufi Hannemann said. “And we’re ready to support it going forward, and also to ensure that we will do our part, not to take it for granted.”
John DeFries, Hawaii Tourism Authority President John DeFries said eliminating Safe Travels is an added incentive for visitors to come to Hawaii.
“It is a time for us to also be increasingly more responsible to how we handle this new freedom,” DeFries said. “With the return of our liberties comes on an increased amount of responsibility.”
The end of the emergency proclamation also means public workers will no longer be required to show proof of vaccination or test, and state facilities won’t check that information either.
But the governor is keeping the mask mandate in place. He wants everyone to remember that the pandemic isn’t over.
“We’ll be continuing to closely monitor the outcomes of changes to programs all across the country and the recommendations of the CDC, before making statewide indoor natural requirement changes here in the islands.”
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He said he’s keeping masks in place because Hawaii is unique–in that public schools, jails and some hospitals are state run.