Hawaii officials disagree about when to drop travel testing

HONOLULU — Uncertainty remains about when Hawaii will drop its requirement for vaccinated travelers to have negative coronavirus test results so they can avoid quarantine after arriving in the state.

Hawaii Lt. Gov. Josh Green wants the state to drop the testing requirement for fully vaccinated travelers ahead of the July 4 holiday, but Gov. David Ige is reluctant.

Ige would not commit to dropping the travel tests on Monday, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported.

The Democratic governor said earlier this month that testing requirements for vaccinated domestic travelers would end once 60% of Hawaii residents are fully vaccinated. That figure has been slow to climb in recent weeks and currently stands at 57%.

“We do anticipate crossing that 60% threshold,” Ige said. “It is hard to predict exactly when that would happen because of the fact that the pace of vaccinations is actually slowing and the number of vaccines administered in the last week is significantly lower than the number of vaccines administered, for example, two weeks ago.”

But Green, who is also a Democrat, said there could be confusion and conflict if the state doesn’t drop the requirements soon.

“It’s just really important that Hawaii not get a black eye by being unclear,” Green said.

He said the state should end the requirement on July 1. If officials wait until after the holiday weekend — when Hawaii expects about 30,000 daily visitors — then “we are going to have a lot of confusion and a lot of large conflicts,” Green said.

Ige is monitoring vaccination rates and said any changes will be made early enough to give travelers and companies time to prepare for the lifting of restrictions.

All trans-Pacific travelers coming to Hawaii must currently provide negative COVID-19 test results or quarantine for 10 days upon arrival. The next phase of restrictions will allow inoculated travelers to upload their vaccination cards to avoid testing and quarantine rules.

Ige said all pandemic-related restrictions will end when 70% of residents have been vaccinated.