A guide to the restrictions, vaccine requirements for Hawaii travel during COVID

Versie Dortch

Info: Find the latest information on travel to the Islands from the Hawaii government’s COVID-19 travel site.
Testing: Get details on Hawaii’s pre-travel testing program.
Form: Fill out the health form needed to visit Hawaii.

Hawaii sounded the alarm bells last month around a surging pandemic, and Gov. David Ige urged tourists to stay away through the end of October. 

“It’s not a good time to travel to the islands,” Ige said at an Aug. 23 press conference, adding that a lockdown could be on the table if the number of COVID cases continued to rise. “We know the visitors that choose to come to the islands will not have the typical kind of holiday they expect to get when they visit Hawaii.” 

While Ige told people to stay home, the state didn’t take the extreme step of banning travel. Currently, Hawaii and its resorts, beaches and destinations all remain open on all the major islands including Oahu, Kauai, Maui, Hawaii (the Big Island), Molokai and Lanai. 

Hawaii Lt. Gov. Josh Green is urging tourists to stay away and residents to limit travel, and leaders are re-imposing caps on sizes of social gatherings.

Caleb Jones/AP

Should you go to Hawaii right now?

Many travelers have already heeded the governor’s call, and the state has seen a decline in the number of travelers.


For those who are still making a decision, SFGATE recently spoke with a medical ethicist about whether or not to travel to Hawaii.

The ethics of travel depend on “who is making the decision and about what,” Barbara Koenig, a medical anthropologist and registered nurse who recently retired as director of the UCSF Bioethics Program, told SFGATE. For instance, some may need to travel to Hawaii, especially in the case of loved ones who are ill. 

The bottom line: If you do go to Hawaii, it is best to be vaccinated and to avoid places and activities that could send you to an overburdened hospital system.

People walk past shops in the Waikiki neighborhood of Honolulu, Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2021. Hawaii was once seen as a beacon of safety during the pandemic, but the highly contagious delta variant exploited weaknesses as residents let down their guard and attended family gatherings after months of restrictions and vaccine hesitancy lingered in some Hawaiian communities.

People walk past shops in the Waikiki neighborhood of Honolulu, Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2021. Hawaii was once seen as a beacon of safety during the pandemic, but the highly contagious delta variant exploited weaknesses as residents let down their guard and attended family gatherings after months of restrictions and vaccine hesitancy lingered in some Hawaiian communities.

Caleb Jones/AP

Who can go to Hawaii?

Any traveler who is fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in the United States or its U.S. Territories can enter Hawaii without fulfilling the 10-day quarantine requirement. Proof of vaccination will be asked for at the airport upon arriving in Hawaii. Travelers who were fully vaccinated in Hawaii and are returning from a trip will be expedited through processing after uploading their vaccination status digitally. 

Any traveler who is not fully vaccinated is required to take a pre-travel test to bypass the 10-day quarantine requirement. The 10-day quarantine is required and enforced for all visitors who do not meet these vaccination or testing requirements.

Visit the Hawaii COVID-19 travel website for more information.

People swim and surf off Waikiki Beach in Honolulu, Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2021.

People swim and surf off Waikiki Beach in Honolulu, Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2021.

Caleb Jones/AP

What steps must I take to enter the state?

There are a few important steps that are required to enter.

1. Travelers must fill out the Hawaii Safe Travel program application form.

2. A negative COVID-19 test result or a vaccination record document must be uploaded to the Safe Travel portal to obtain a QR code, a barcode that can be scanned and will significantly reduce processing time at the airport upon arrival. All travelers who wish to submit a negative test must take a Nucleic Acid Amplification Test (NAAT) that is certified from a Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendment (CLIA) lab. This type of test is done by swabbing the nose or mouth or collecting saliva. 

For travelers uploading their full vaccination status, the documentation must be validated by any of the three Digital Health Pass Partners: CommonPass, AZOVA or CLEAR.

More information can be found on the State of Hawaii’s COVID-19 portal.

What are the rules once I get there?

The rules that apply to travelers are similar to rules in other states. Masks are required indoors. When interacting with others outdoors, it is recommended you wear a mask. 

There are also limitations on the number of people who gather together. Across the state, no more than 10 people should gather indoors, and no more than 25 outdoors.  

In this 2020 file photo, people walk the Makapuu Point Lighthouse Trail on the eastern shore of the island of Oahu on Oct. 19, 2020 in Honolulu, Hawaii.

In this 2020 file photo, people walk the Makapuu Point Lighthouse Trail on the eastern shore of the island of Oahu on Oct. 19, 2020 in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Kent Nishimura/2020 Los Angeles Times

What do I need to know about specific islands?

Recently, Oahu and Maui announced they are requiring proof of vaccination for entry to restaurants, bars and other indoor activities. The order began on Sept. 13. Children under 12, who are ineligible for vaccines, are exempt. Other islands have yet to announce such a mandate. 

Each county has specific mask compliance orders. Read up on the county mandates for Kauai, Honolulu, Oahu, Maui and Hawaii.  

What are the COVID numbers?

The numbers show that severity of the pandemic has decreased since Aug. 23 when Ige asked travelers to not visit. The statewide test positivity rate (percentage of people who test positive for the virus of all of individuals who are tested) was 7% on Sept. 13 compared to 9% on Aug. 23, according to John Hopkins University’s COVID tracker. An average of 606 cases are being reported daily across the past seven days, compared to 711 daily cases nearly four weeks ago. Of the total population, 66% are fully vaccinated. 

The state’s website shows numbers on the county level.

https://www.sfgate.com/hawaii/article/Hawaii-travel-COVID-requirements-rules-forms-16445090.php

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