'Safe Travels' pandemic program could remain into next year, Lt. Gov. Josh Green says
HONOLULU — Hawaiʻi's policy of requiring vaccinations or a negative COVID-19 test to bypass quarantine rules for people entering the state will likely stay in place into next year, Lt. Gov. Josh Green said.
Green told Hawaii News Now he doesn't think the “Safe Travels” program will go away "until the rest of the world has seen a great decrease in COVID. My gut tells me the governor will be reluctant to do away with it until spring 2022.”
Green has helped oversee the Safe Travels program but the governor has the final say on any changes.
The program has been running for more than a year. Hawaiʻi has among the highest vaccination rates in the nation.
As of Nov. 16, the state reports 77% of residents aged 5 and older are fully vaccinated. On Oʻahu, that rate jumps to 80%. Maui County has the lowest rate at 69%.
Some believe the program is bad for business.
“It wouldn’t hurt to do away with it,” said Arianna Stephens, manager at the Waikiki Grass Shack Bistro. “We don’t get as much of that local crowd coming in too often, so it’s really difficult to try and sustain the business.”
Some visitors said they don't mind the restrictions.
“It would not deter me from coming back,” said Wisconsin visitor Paul Kinzel.
“This is not about what I want," said California visitor Sharon Richards. "It’s about what’s right and what will keep people safe.”