Hawaii prepares to welcome back mainland travelers without vaccinations, testing rules


HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) — Since its launch, 12 million passengers have been screened under the state’s Safe Travels program launched in an effort to welcome visitors amid the pandemic.

But at 11:59 p.m. Friday, Safe Travels will no longer exist.

The state will stop checking for proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test. They will stop requiring incoming passengers to pass a health screening. And anyone in quarantine will be released.

The state is even reallocating some of its equipment. Some 114 thermal scanning cameras will be stored for the time being.

“In the event that something should resume, we will have the facility ready to operate,” said Jai Cunningham, spokesman for the Department for Transport. “But again, by the end of next month, all those kiosks that you saw that were part of the Safe Travels program will be gone.”

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Roberts Hawaii employed the vast majority of people working on the Safe Travels screening process. The company is committed for $2.2 million per month, according to Hawaii Emergency Management.

This is the transition of control staff to vacant positions in transport divisions.

Sherilyn Kajiwara, administrator of the Safe Travels program, said the end of Safe Travels does not mean the end of the pandemic. “That doesn’t mean the virus is gone,” she said.

She also applauded the governor’s “cautious” approach to the virus.

Meanwhile, travelers are happy to see the end of Safe Travels. Some interviewed on Friday expressed surprise that they could have avoided the hassle if they had postponed the trip for a day.

“Well, that would have been nice,” said Jane Moore, a visitor from California. “But that’s not how it happened. But it’s just great to be back.

“People here have made it really seamless and easy,” said Jeff Resnik. “But maybe I should have arrived tomorrow.”

Others were disappointed that the program was ending. Like Gladis Polanco, who is a nanny in California.

“I feel like because I work with kids, I always want to make sure I’m okay,” Polanco said.

“I don’t think they should stop it,” said Cesario Gutierrez Barrera, another visitor from California. “I think they should just keep going a bit more until they see fewer cases.”

Also leaving at 11:59 p.m. Friday: Hawaii indoor mask mandate.

Officials, however, are quick to note that masks are still required at airports.

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