Backpackers Tokyo


Hawaii is getting ready to tighten its already strict entry requirements and it looks like the change could happen as early as Presidents Day weekend.

Gov. David Ige told the Honolulu Star Advertiser last week that the state is moving toward requiring travelers to show proof of a COVID booster shot to be considered fully vaccinated under its Safe Travels Program. 

Visitors and returning residents currently are required to be at least 14 days out from their first round of vaccine shots. Those who aren't fully vaccinated must provide proof of a pre-departure negative COVID test or quarantine for five days.

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Ige and other officials have not disclosed a timetable for any vaccination status change – beyond saying the state would provide at least two weeks' notice – but the mayor of Honolulu said Wednesday that the state is aiming for Feb. 18.

Rick Blangiardi revealed the target date for implementation at a news conference on the state's COVID cases.

Ige's office did not respond to a request for comment on the Feb. 18 date. On Tuesday, Ige's press secretary, Jodi Leong, said there were no updates on any changes to the state's entry requirements.

The head of the Safe Travels Program, Sheri Kajiwara, said in a television interview Tuesday that work is already underway to update the computer systems and website of the Safe Travel program to be ready for implementation. She said the new requirements will only be added if and when Ige decides to add the booster requirement but she made it clear changes are expected.

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"It seems very likely that a booster will be required to be considered updated in your vaccination status," she said.

The island of Maui, a top tourist destination in Hawaii, has already changed its definition fully vaccinated to include those with a booster shot. That means travelers will be required to have a booster shot to dine inside at restaurants, for example. The new rules were due to go into effect on Jan. 8 but the date was pushed to Jan. 24 to allow time for children and others to get their booster shots.