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Hawaii has reversed course on its plans to require vaccinated travelers to have a booster shot as a part of its Safe Travels program, the state’s governor said Tuesday.
“In making this decision, we considered declining COVID-19 case counts in Hawai’i, the continental U.S. and Europe. Hospitalizations have also dropped. In addition, we looked at Hawaiʻi’s robust vaccination rates and the continued push by businesses and organizations to get their employees vaccinated and boosted for the safety of their families and the community,” Ige said in a statement. “At this time, we will also maintain the indoor mask mandate and other rules that have helped us manage this pandemic while reopening the economy.”
The news comes weeks after he said he would change the definition of “fully vaccinated” to include a booster shot.
Hawaii’s Safe Travels program, which was first created in October 2020, allows domestic travelers to skip quarantine if they are fully vaccinated or show proof of a negative test before traveling. Foreign travelers entering Hawaii from another country must still be fully vaccinated and get tested within one day of boarding a flight to the country.
The island of Maui, which last month changed its definition of “fully vaccinated” to include boosters, also reversed course and has dropped that requirement, local news outlet KHON2 reported. Both Maui and Honolulu require proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test to enter businesses like restaurants.
While protocol isn’t changing just yet, the Safe Travels program won’t be in place forever. In fact, the state’s Department of Health “is currently working on criteria and conditions that would allow the state to eventually end Safe Travels Hawaiʻi,” according to the governor’s office.
Lt. Gov. Josh Green said Hawaii may look to end the program by the spring, The Washington Post reported.
“I would expect those restrictions to begin to fall away in the spring,” Green said. “But one thing we’ve learned about covid is it does sometimes throw one a curveball. People didn’t really predict a highly, highly contagious omicron variant; otherwise we would have already been there.”
However, Hawaii has cut back on some requirements of the program, eliminating the need for domestic travelers to fill out an online health form before their arrival and shortening its isolation and quarantine policies to be more in line with recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Several other countries have implemented booster requirements for travel or to access spaces like restaurants.
Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she’s not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.