If you’re in need of a vacation — and fully vaccinated against COVID-19 — Hawaii would love to welcome you. So says Gov. David Ige, who in August asked visitors to stay home as COVID cases and hospitalizations were on the rise in the islands. Now, the seven-day rolling average of daily cases has plummeted to 117 from 900 when Ige made his request, and there are only about 100 people hospitalized with COVID statewide.
Official entry protocols did not change when Ige asked travelers to stay away, but plenty of people honored the request and canceled trips. Starting Nov. 1, Ige says, he’d love them to have them back.
“I think we are all encouraged by what we’ve seen over the last several weeks with the continuing trend of lower case counts,” Ige said. “Our hospitals are doing better, and we have fewer COVID patients in them. Most importantly, our health care system has responded, and we have the ability to move forward with economic recovery.”
While proof of vaccination is not required to avoid a 10-day quarantine as long as you present a negative COVID test from an approved provider taken within 72 hours before departure to Hawaii, Ige would prefer guests be fully inoculated.
Tourism is, of course, a major spoke of Hawaii’s economy, but Ige has been careful to protect the health of the islands’ residents, walking a tightrope between public health and economic prosperity.
County mayors have done the same and are looking forward to a wider reopening.
“We’re excited to welcome back visitors from around the world under a newly established framework that aims to build tourism around our communities and not the other way around,” Hawaii County (Big Island) mayor Mitch Roth said in a statement. “The pandemic has given us the pause we needed to reassess and reimagine tourism on our island. As a result, we have worked tirelessly with the Hawaii Tourism Authority, the Hawaii Island Visitors Bureau, and vested members of our community to create a Destination Management Action Plan that finally puts our community, its culture and values, and its well-being at the forefront of our redefined tourism industry.”