Hawaii will officially welcome tourists back on November 1 after asking visitors to stay away for weeks, the state’s governor said on Tuesday, according to reports. By
“I’m encouraged by the continuing trend of lower case counts of COVID-19 in our islands. Our hospitals are doing better and seeing fewer patients. This gives us the ability to move forward in our economic recovery and safely welcome back fully vaccinated domestic travellers,” Ige tweeted. “As always, we will continue to monitor case counts and hospitalisations in the islands and adjust as needed while prioritising the health and safety of our residents.”
The move marks a significant reversal from Ige’s plea in August when he asked tourists to “restrict and curtail travel” to Hawaii.
But while he wanted travellers to delay their trips due to rising cases of COVID-19 and increasing hospitalisations, Ige never officially paused the state’s ‘Safe Travels’ program, which allows domestic visitors to skip quarantine if they arrive with proof of vaccination or proof of a negative test. The program was initially slated to end when Hawaii hit a 70% vaccination rate (which it has already reached on a statewide basis), but Ige has instead chosen to keep protocols in place.
The decision to once again welcome travellers with open arms comes as the USA as a whole prepares to open to vaccinated foreign tourists on November 8.
“We’re continuing to seek information from the federal government about plans for international travel and will have an appropriate plan in place prior to November 8,” Ige tweeted.
When travellers do decide to head back to Hawaii, they should do so responsibly, including searching for locally owned businesses, heeding all signs, and treading lightly by simple changes like wearing reef-safe sunscreen and picking up any trash they find at the beach.