Hawaii lifts pandemic travel restrictions for U.S. visitors

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Hawaii lifts pandemic travel restrictions for U.S. visitors
People are shown boogie boarding in Hawaii Islands National Marine Sanctuary. File Photo courtesy of National Marine Sanctuaries/Wikimedia Commons.

March 26 (UPI) — Hawaii lifted its pandemic travel restrictions on Saturday making it the first day in more than a year that domestic visitors can travel to the islands without showing a negative COVID-19 test or proof of vaccination, or submitting to a quarantine period.

The state’s Hawaii Safe Travel program expired at midnight on Friday. As of Saturday, anyone in the United States visiting Hawaii can do so as they did prior to the pandemic.

State health authorities implemented Hawaii Safe Travel protocols in October 2020. On March 1, 2022, they announced the restrictions would be lifted.

“The program played a key role in keeping Hawaii’s residents safe before vaccinations were widely available, and during the surges we’ve seen through this pandemic,” John De Fries, Hawaii Tourism Authority President and CEO, said in a press release.

“Bringing the Safe Travels program to a close reflects the progress we have made as a state, and Governor Ige’s decision is a good balance of maintaining reasonable health precautions while reopening our society and economy.”

Passengers arriving to Hawaii on direct international flights must still show proof of vaccination and a negative pre-travel COVID-19 test, in compliance with federal U.S. entry requirements.

Hawaii Safe Travel proved an effective strategy over the course of the pandemic. Hawaii has boasted the lowest number of COVID-19 cases and deaths per capita — 16,496 total cases and 97 deaths per 100,000 residents, according to a tracker from The New York Times.

Hawaii also lifted its statewide indoor mask mandate this weekend, making it the last state in the country to do so.

However, masks remain required in planes, airports and public transportation, as well as in schools, Hawaii News Now reported. Private businesses can also choose to require patrons and staff to wear face masks.

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