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On this episode of Hawaii’s Best, Bryan updates us on the latest news about traveling to Hawaii during 2021. We’ll learn about the new vaccination passports and how they’ll potentially play into your upcoming trip. This “vaccine program is not currently live but is slated to roll out this summer.

Those not wanting to be vaccinated and wishing to avoid a 10-day quarantine will still be able to test (negative) 72 hours prior to the final leg of departure.

On a recent trip to Oahu, Bryan and Ali observed that many restaurants and places that survived the pandemic’s economic hit are open again, but observed a certain amount of tension as the island tries to navigate getting back into more activity and tourism.

Hawaii’s Safe Travel program launched in October of 2020. Part of the requirement is to get a negative test result from a DOH-approved testing site within 72 hours of the departure’s final leg, and some islands require a second test upon arrival as well.

In addition, on April 9, 2021, the Governor of Hawaii, David Ige, announced that a vaccine passport would be added to the program. It could roll out as early as May for inter-island travel and potentially in the summer for trans-pacific travel from the mainland.

Once the program rolls out, people will be able to provide proof of vaccination soon to avoid the need to get the test before traveling (and after landing in some locations). Travelers can qualify for this status two weeks after their vaccination is completed. Keiki under 5 do not need to test or show proof of vaccination.

Unvaccinated travelers can still go the test route; the vaccine passport isn’t required to go to Hawaii. The White House ruled out the possibility of a federal mandate for the vaccine but is working out ways to streamline the topic and collect data in specific ways.

The Hawaii Tourism Association president expressed eagerness to get the economy of Hawaii moving at a better pace again in a safe manner. Hawaii has very low COVID infection rates, and everyone wants to keep it that way as more and more people desire to visit Hawaii soon.


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Bryan Murphy 0:00

During this time of wanting to travel again I found the perfect travel backpack. I've become this collector of travel backpacks for some reason I found one that I have fallen in love with you can pack for three days so it serves as kind of like this travel backpack carry on thing. What I love most about this is its durability and options. This thing is built so comfortably. It just feels right. It's from nomadic. For me I have what's called the travel pack, but there's so many options so many different types of bags, cases for your cameras, luggage accessories, head on over to Hawaii's Best travel comm slash nomadic.

Hawaii's Best 0:38

Welcome to Hawaii's Best Podcast, where we help you prepare for your next trip to Hawaii. Discover the experiences businesses and stories that make Hawaii the Aloha state. And now your host, Brian Murphy.

Bryan Murphy 0:54

Welcome to another episode of Hawaii's Best where we help prepare you for your next trip to Hawaii. I'm your host Brian Murphy, the owner of Hawaii's Best where we offer resources tips to help you get the most out of your trip on the island. Recently, I was in Waikiki during spring break, we were there doing some marketing for a couple businesses. And it was encouraging seeing things pick up and crowds back in Waikiki. However, a part of me felt this tension as well. In regards to Oahu, most dining and resorts that didn't close during the pandemic. Unfortunately, there's many businesses that did close permanently, which is so sad. But many of those places that did survive during the pandemic are now open and many excursions and experiences like luaus are open, though, you know, this is great for business and Hawaii is restarting efforts to its economy there's there's Attention, attention, and how to safely navigate the reopening and welcoming visitors again, attention of lots of people back in Hawaii and experiencing the incredible yet delicate landscape and attention between residents and visitors honestly. Now, some of that tension is a little bit more prevalent on different islands and different areas have different islands. And perhaps we'll cover that in a future episode. But that's really not the point of what this podcast is all about. But we do want to talk about some of those tensions and things to be aware of. And that's been a lot of what we've been trying to cover this past month. Since Hawaii announces reopening, it's been our goal at Hawaii's Best to help us navigate these tensions. Now, I don't feel like this is a platform for me to give you my personal opinions on topics. For example, today we're talking about the vaccination passports, I don't feel like it's my place to give my personal opinions on things like vaccination and testing to travel. But however, I have no reservations of giving my opinion on you know, like the best my ties monkey bot, or best favorite beach alternative to Waikiki like White Plains. But what we do want to do is help prepare you for your trip to Hawaii, I want you and your family to have the most epic time of your life the most awesome experience that you've been dreaming off and saving up for for all these years. And I want to give you all these resources and these incredible guests and cultural insights for free. We're a media company that that works with and partners alongside of locals and businesses. I'm not a travel agent. We don't offer any vacation packages or anything like that we don't book your trip. We just simply want to help prepare you and others for travel to Hawaii, and to travel Pono meaning travel responsibly. We talked a lot about what that is and what that looks like. on last week's episode, where we talked about the Pono pledge initiative on the island of Hawaii, so be sure you check out that it was a incredible episode and insight into what the Pono pledge is all about and what travel Pono means and really that's what this podcast is all about is to help people travel responsibly to Hawaii and to enjoy the time of your life. That's really what I want and the team at Hawaii's Best really want for you.

Now, one of the ways to travel Pono is by having an understanding of Hawaii's Safe travels program and I covered the program in depth on a previous episode Episode 50 so go to Hawaii's Best travel.com slash Episode 50 Be sure to listen that Be sure to read the show notes there everything what you need to know and how to navigate Hawaii saved Travel program. This program is the current I guess call it like gatekeeper for Hawaii, it launched back in October of 2020. And to sum it up, if you want to avoid a 10 day quarantine, you need to test negative to COVID 72 hours prior to your final leg of departure. Again, go back to Episode 50. Read all about that go to Hawaii COVID-19 dot com. Get all the up to date info about all that because at the time of this recording, Maui is now requiring a second test. A second test once you land on Island at two transpacific travelers, you will need to take a second test that's no cost to you. But yeah, it's a bit of an inconvenience. But that's one way that Maui County is safeguarding their resources and to try to keep their community safe. As of right now. Hawaii safe travel program is still the way to go and moving forward. It's going to be still kind of the gatekeeper into Hawaii and travel to Hawaii. So what we're talking about today is this term vaccination, passport or vaccine passport, this term vaccine passport that's been kind of thrown around quite a bit. It seems almost as soon as the Safe travels program launched. rumors started circulating about this so called vaccine passport could be kind of a next step into this program. And those rumors were confirmed on Friday, April 9 2021 by Hawaii Governor David egay. He officially gave the green light to this vaccine passport program that could roll out as early as May for inter Island travel. So that's Island Island and then would expand to out of state travelers by summer so transpacific travel, people traveling from the mainland would roll out probably late June, July, summer around that, maybe sooner that would be great, but that's to be determined. I wanted to read a section of the governor's 19th emergency proclamation which where this edition of this vaccine passport was put in writing. So, I was able to find it in the 74 page document of the emergency Proclamation. So here we go. Under the section the following persons entering the state shall not be subject to self quarantine. So exemption one would be persons who enter by recreational boats into the state small boat non commercial harbors which have been at sea for at least 10 consecutive days before entering state waters and have no persons on board who are ill or are exhibiting symptoms of covid 19. So I had no idea that that was a thing. So interesting. See what happens when you actually read like the official documents. Number two persons who prior to departure to the state upload into state's Safe travels program or otherwise provided dated confirmation received by the traveler prior to departure from a D o h approved COVID-19 testing facility trusted testing partner have a negative test result using a D o h approved form from an observed test administered to the traveler within 72 hours from the final leg of departure. So that's something that we covered back in Episode 50 for the first time and unpack what all that means. So be sure to do that you got to take into account the final leg of departure that could be in a different timezone. Don't worry about Hawaii's timezone worry about the timezone that the final leg of departure your final flight over to Hawaii is and that's the key there when testing alright number three upon the establishment of an exception by the director of why Emergency Management Agency persons who prior to departure to the state upload into state's Safe travels program or otherwise provide validation that they have completed a vaccine regimen approved by d o h. This third exemption is not available as of the date of this proclamation

and requires action by the director of Hawaii Emergency Management Agency. details will be posted at Hawaii COVID nineteen.com. Persons under the age of five accompany and by a traveler who meets existing test exceptions are not required to obtain a test prior to arrival. In addition, a county may require travelers five years and older to obtain a subsequent test after arrival into the state, which tests shall be paid for and administered by the county at a county designated site persons who arrive into a county that requires a subsequent test do not need to self quarantine. Prior to obtaining the subsequent test, these are the tests that we're talking about like on Maui and island of Hawaii. A county requiring travelers to obtain this subsequent test shall integrate the test protocol into the state's Safe travels program and implement it through County Emergency orders. So that last section there is is a little loose meaning that it's kind of county to county like a county meaning Maui County. When we talk about Maui County, we're talking about island of Maui linna e Molokai II, island of Hawaii, the Big Island, that's another island that is requiring the second test as soon as you land. So be aware of that. Now, when this vaccine passport rolls out, basically, it's like another step into the Safe travels program. When that rolls out. I don't know if these other counties will still be doing this second test. I hope not. But that's kind of up to the county, the governor leaves it into the mayors of those counties hands if they want to administer a second subsequent test upon arrival. Also, Hawaii is actively working with developers of multiple apps such as clear carbon pass and first vitals. So those are three ones to look into clear. In particular, you've probably seen that traveling at the airport. purpose of this is to streamline integrating a pre flight vaccination verification process into the state Safe travels program. all that to say unvaccinated travelers can also avoid the state's mandatory quarantine, if they upload a negative COVID test administered within 72 hours from the final leg of departure. So that is still an option. vaccine passport isn't mandatory, there's still the option to get tested, like what is currently in place. So just be aware of that. So Hawaii tourism officials see this initiative as a way to kind of fast forward the state's economic recovery. The President and CEO of the Hawaii tourism and Lodging Association said businesses have lost a lot of money during this whole period here. So there's a lot to recoup, he goes on to say. But more importantly, we're anxious to get this economy moving forward in a safe and healthy manner. And we talked about this is one of those tensions that everyone's trying to navigate. Zooming out across the rest of the country, many businesses recognize the upside of having a fast and easy way to verify an individual's COVID status cruise lines to colleges are mandating vaccinations. However, the White House has ruled out a National Vaccine passport system confirming there will be no federal vaccination database, and no federal mandate for vaccine credentials. Yet at the same time, the administration is working to develop a standard way of handling credentials to allow Americans to prove they are protected against contracting COVID-19, which was reported by the Washington Post. So I'll leave that there. That's as far as I'll go with that, because we're here to talk about how this affects you traveling to Hawaii. So there's still a bunch of questions. What we do know for sure, though, that this is coming soon, like within a couple months, this is going to be an option. If you chose to get vaccinated, and you want to travel to Hawaii, this is a way that you can do that rather quickly and hopefully with without a lot of friction. So a couple questions, basically, how will the vaccine passport work? I kind of already talked about that. But currently, Hawaii requires that you're traveling like this month in April. Currently, Hawaii still requires people to get tested 72 hours prior to their final leg of departure to avoid a 10 day quarantine, that all has to be uploaded through the Safe travels program.

With the new vaccine passport program. Kind of an addition to the Safe travels program. vaccinated travelers will be able to skip the testing and quarantine requirement by uploading valid vaccination documents to this safe travels program or by showing documents in person. This is also important to note that travelers can qualify for this exemption two weeks after they have been fully vaccinated. So just be aware of that throughout this whole process. Lieutenant Governor Josh green has been spearheading the Safe travels program and the reopening efforts. He was on episode 45 of the podcast. So if you want to check that out, get to know him a little bit. And here's some of his opinions on the reopening and how his team has has been leading that you can check that On an on episode 45. But he goes on to say this, we've already seen a large uptick in travel numbers, we have the lowest COVID-19 infection rates in the country. And I think a lot of people are deciding it's time for a trip to Hawaii, that's we've been hearing a lot of that too. He goes on to say a vaccine passport program will have an enormous impact, we need to have this in place before summer travel. So it's all button up for everyone interested in coming. So bottom line here is guys, it's what we've been speculating for some time. Number one vaccine passports are thing, however, they're optional, is going to be launching sometime this summer for Trans Pacific travel. And inter Island looks like it's going to be launching early May. Number two, current testing will stay in place for those who don't want to vaccinate, and number three, under five years don't need to test. So if you have a child, zero through four, they don't need to test five years and up. They do as of right now. So some of the questions that that I have, and we'll be looking for the answers for in the weeks to come. And I'm sure some of the questions that you have are what about families with children five to 15 years. Now, if you're in the US, you probably are familiar that there is currently no vaccine available for children. Just last week, I believe it was made available for those 16 Plus, but however, there isn't anything approved right now for children five to 15 years. So what happens to families say mom and dad are, are vaccinated, they got their vaccine passport, everything's loaded up, but they still got a test, you know, a couple kids, that could be a bummer. Curious on what that means. Because a lot of people, you know, they they want to do Hawaii, then they want to do wahoo. And so what does that mean for families who are traveling? Are they going to have to get their kids tested every time they you know, wanted to travel to another island or every time they they want to travel over to Hawaii. And another question that we get a lot is what about international travelers? What does that mean for specifically for our friends in Canada, and Japan? Japan, I see you I hear you I thank you so much. You're like what do you what are you talking about? But this podcast is ranked number 10 in Japan and travels and places on Apple podcasts. So you're listening to this in Japan. Thank you so much. Appreciate you. So I'll be looking for those answers to what does that mean for international travelers? Wow, you made it this far. I know this was a lot of info to take in and we'll be updating as we get the info. Be sure to follow along on any of our Instagram accounts. Our main one is at Hawaii's Best. You can also follow along at Hawaii's Best podcast or Hawaii's Best travel. Whatever one of those you want to follow will be active over there to get all the shownotes to get all the details that we talked about in this episode go to Hawaii's Best travel.com slash Episode 57. I appreciate you. Thank you so much for hanging in there with all this info. You're like me you love you care so much about Hawaii. And this info is important. If you're thinking about traveling to Hawaii, this is info that you just need to be aware of and to know so there aren't any surprises and you can have the trip of your life for you and your family. Thank you so much for considering to hit subscribe or following this podcast wherever you're listening and leaving a rating and review that helps people who love Hawaii just as much as you be able to find this podcast and until next time be well. Aloha.

Hawaii's Best 18:57

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Bryan Murphy
Bryan Murphy

Bryan Murphy, owner of Hawaii’s Best Travel, is a certified Hawaii destination expert from the Hawaii Visitors Bureau. He actively participates in the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau as a member and has a strong educational background focused on local culture and sustainability. As the host of “Hawaii’s Best Travel,” a top-30 US travel podcast, Bryan combines his years of experience with valuable insights. He connects with a broad online community, reaching nearly half a million people, and offers a richer, more responsible way to experience Hawaii.