Hawaii is moving to create a “vaccine passport” program for travelers coming into the Aloha State as it approaches the summer tourism months.
Democratic Governor David Ige officially signed his newest emergency proclamation for the COVID-19 crisis on Friday. According to Maui Now reporting, the proclamation continues the moratorium on evictions, which will allow tenants to stay in their place of residence even if they cannot pay rent. It also permits the expiration date for certain permits, driver’s licenses, and state IDs to be extended, among other declarations.
In addition, the governor’s emergency proclamation had some other items of note — namely, the potential rollout of a program that would allow people to be exempt from self-quarantining when they arrive in the state if they can provide proof that “they have completed a vaccine regimen approved by [the Department of Health]” before they depart to go to Hawaii. They must have uploaded the verification into the Safe Travels program or provided validation some other way. The proclamation made the point that this exception is not permitted currently, but more details will be provided.
As of now, if travelers come to Hawaii, they must self-quarantine for 10 days or be granted an exemption. The exemption can be granted if they provide a negative COVID-19 test that was administered “within 72 hours from the final leg of departure” or receive an exemption for other reasons, such as if they have previously been infected with the virus and can no longer spread it to other people.
According to local outlet KHON2, Lt. Gov. Josh Green said that the goal is to start a program for the vaccine passport initiative for residents who are traveling in between the islands on May 1. Green also said that trans-Pacific vaccinated travelers may be able to use the program on June 1.
People would use the Safe Travels app that is used to provide negative COVID-19 test results. Instead of a test result, travelers would put in their vaccination card.
“The essential plan would be to allow for people to upload their card, for us to be able to ask them to put in a couple details like the lot number of their vaccine and the date that they got it,” Green explained, “and then we’d be able to verify it and have people show their card on arrival.”
Mufi Hannemann is the president and CEO of the Hawaii Tourism and Lodging Association. Hannemann told Hawaii News Now that he believes the vaccine passport will aid the tourism industry and help get people working again.
“Businesses have lost a lot of money during this whole period here so there’s a lot to recoup,” said Hanneman. “But more importantly, we’re anxious to get this economy moving forward in a safe and healthy manner.”
Vaccine passports are a contentious issue in the United States as different states debate the usefulness and morality of them. House Republicans recently introduced legislation to prohibit the federal government from requiring the documentation, according to The Daily Wire. The proposed “No Vaccine Passport Act” would “prevent federal agencies from issuing any standardized documentation that could be used to certify a U.S. citizen’s COVID-19 status to a third party, such as a restaurant or an airline. Additionally, this bill prohibits proof of COVID-19 vaccination from being a requirement for access to federal or congressional property and services.”
Green said last week that vaccine passports will ease travel, but the new development is not meant to force anyone into getting vaccinated.
“But I want to be very clear, if you don’t want to be vaccinated, you can still use the Safe Travels program and get a pretest,” Green said. “We don’t want to discriminate against anybody, but it will be an easier way to travel.”