Interisland travel passports could help local families, businesses

Local News

HONOLULU (KHON2) — A big announcement regarding interisland travel is slated for Tuesday according to Lieutenant Governor Josh Green.

Specifics haven’t been announced, but we do know that the state has been working on a plan to waive restrictions for vaccinated travelers. Governor Ige met with State Adjutant General Hara last week to iron out details, including making sure people have their cards and what to do with bottlenecks at the airport.

“We will announce tomorrow, the new rules on travel,” Lt. Gov Green said. “I’ll leave that to the Governor, but a lot of things are going to be a little bit more convenient if we as a society is vaccinated.”

Some Hawaii families are hoping they can reunite, like Hilo resident Brad Silva’s ohana. He and his two children haven’t been able to see his parents on Kauai since the pandemic started.

“My parents just got vaccinated as well so hopefully that will open the doors for us to visit there or them to come here since we haven’t seen each other physically sine this whole pandemic started,” Silva said.

Aside from helping families reconnect, there’s also an economic impact if the state does waive the pre-travel testing requirement.

“It’s costly to fly to off islands let alone rental car rates are up. But basically it’s like paying extra hotel with the test,” Silva added.

Kahului Ale House located near the airport hopes to see some of that extra money come it’s way after a rough 2020.

“We would almost see people daily at least on the weekends a lot to see family and that’s been non-existent for probably the last year,” said Brad Sundin, the owner of Kahului Ale House.

Those in the hospitality industry are also hoping the change will help give the state the boost it needs to bounce back.

“We’re still one of the highest states in the nation in unemployment,” Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association President & CEO Mufi Hannemann said. “Still about 70,000 people out of work. So this will have a ripple effect, it will help small businesses, restaurants, retail, they really need to have more customers and interisland travel is a key,”

While not giving away any specifics, both Maui and Hawaii counties say they support the state’s decision while Kauai Mayor Derek Kawakami declined comment until an announcement is made by Governor Ige.

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