Millions of travelers may soon be able to visit Hawaii without quarantine or testing requirements, thanks to the proposal an exemption for vaccinated travelers.
Do new covid-19 vaccines just keep circa 95% of people from becoming infected with covid-19, or do they actually keep people from spreading the virus as carriers too?
That’s the trillion dollar question researchers are working hard to provide a conclusive answer to, but already, it’s believed the answer is an absolute yes and many travel destinations are banking on the positive final results. That now includes Hawaii.
Much like certificates proving someone has recovered from covid-19, some countries and popular travel destinations are looking to drop cumbersome testing requirements for those with proof they’ve been vaccinated. The major change in policy would free up a huge number of people from pre-flight testing needs, or 14 days of quarantine, while opening up borders to millions.
Hawaii Aims To Drop Travel Restrictions for Vaccinated People
Hawaii’s Lieutenant Governor Josh Green is not just a politician, but also an emergency room physician. That may not make him an infectious disease expert, but it does make him more qualified than your average lawmaker to interpret medical data into policy.
Green was the pioneer of Hawaii’s much delayed pre-flight travel testing program, which was created based on a calculated level of risk from incoming arrivals. Green hoped that with a pre-flight covid-19 test, Hawaii would see circa 1:1000 people test negative before departure, but still be able to import the virus.
Those hypothesized testing numbers were achieved, with greater margin of safety than hoped over the summer. Hawaii claims the actual number, based on over 30,000 arrivals was closer to 1:1,500. Still, Kauai opted out of skipping any arrival quarantine, and continues to – with its own ‘resort bubble’ solution.
Now, according to HNN, the Lieutenant Governor has asked Hawaiian Governor David Ige to drop pre-flight testing and 14 day quarantine requirements for those with proof of full vaccination. It’s assumed that means both doses of the vaccine. Over 12 million Americans have been vaccinated thus far, with at least one dose.
Green hopes Hawaii will have this exemption put into action by the spring, meaning millions of travelers may be able to visit Hawaii once again, hoop free, without added risk to the local community.
Hungary and Iceland were among the first countries to welcome visitors with proof of recovery from a verified positive covid-19 result, and the Seychelles recently adopted a similar policy, allowing vaccinated travelers to visit. Norway and Finland are said to be strongly considering matching policies.
The United States plans to test all international arrivals for covid-19 from January 26th, but will allow anyone with proof of recovery from the virus within 90 days of arrival, to be exempt from testing requirements. It’s yet another sign that consensus is building on vaccines and recovered patients not only being less likely to contract covid-19, but less able to spread it. Vaccines will only help to bolster safety figures.
Fun fact: in the Moderna and Pfizer trials, only 1 person out of 32,000 contracted a serious case of covid-19, showing just how “game changing” and effective these new vaccines are. Another one, there’s incredible consensus among medical professionals that the vaccine will stop vaccinated people from transmitting it, not just catching it.
Hawaii Leading The Way
At GSTP, I’ve maintained a “wake me up in March” outlook for travel, noting that things are going to get worse before they get better. That includes travel restrictions, doubts, and perhaps some ‘eyebrow’ raising border policies, such as recent changes in Europe.
We may now be entering the “worse” phase, as international routes shutter and countries close their borders to foreign visitors once again, amid new strains. But by spring, lockdown measures and millions more vaccinated should begin to make an impact, and by summer the world may be a better place, yet again.
If you’re one of the millions of lucky ones to be vaccinated this year, Hawaii may offer one of the easiest and most worthwhile destinations to reach. If Hawaiian Lt. Governor Josh Green is successful in his plan, you’ll be able to land in paradise, and get right to it, provided you’ve got that magic certificate.
We’ll update this news story as Hawaii moves the potential vaccination exemption into rule.