Danny De Gracia: Dining With Danny And His New SMART Card - Honolulu Civil Beat


About the Author

Danny de Gracia

Danny de Gracia is a resident of Waipahu, a political scientist and an ordained minister. Opinions are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Civil Beat's views. You can reach him by email at dgracia@civilbeat.org or follow him on Twitter at @ddg2cb.


It’s been a week since the implementation of Safe Access Oahu, which requires residents to either show proof of full vaccination against Covid-19 or a negative test result to enter certain high-risk public places. Along with Gov. David Ige’s digital SMART card rollout, vaccinated Honolulu residents now have the option of showing paper cards or a digital QR code to meet the requirements of Safe Access.

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To listen to critics of these safety mandates, one would think that the seven-headed dragon of the New World Order would arise on Sept. 13 when Safe Access debuted, and that American freedom as we knew it would be abolished.

We were told by some that the sister island territory of Guam, which implemented a health pass in August, was in economic turmoil because of its mandate, and Oahu would soon implode as well. It was as if all of the worst parts of the Bible were going to manifest last week in Hawaii, and this was yet another sign, somehow, that we in Hawaii are locked behind cages of tyranny while our mainland counterparts enjoy the revelry of sports, dining and unlimited fun.

I personally found it strange that certain partisans who annually celebrate the post-9/11 militarized police state of “check ID for everything, just in case Mexican drug traffickers or al Qaeda practitioners of takfir methodology are among us” would take offense at needing to show ID to enter public places in a time of national crisis, but that’s just me.

But I decided last week to personally see what it would be like to live under Safe Access, so I did in-person dining in three different restaurants; one in Waikiki, another in Ala Moana, and a final one in Waipahu.

Now as a former Washington Times guest writer, most of my friends are hostile anti-vaxxers and alt-right conservatives who rebuke me daily, so I was fully prepared to experience, based on their warnings, the world of GATTACA and medical tyranny in our Honolulu restaurants. Needless to say, I was surprised how safe and pleasant my dining experiences were last week.

For full disclosure, I have not just two, but three shots of the mRNA-1273 vaccine in me, so when I go mask-off into the delta-infested jungle that is Oahu, the coronavirus encounters an immune system that is every bit as unforgiving and stringent as the articles I write every week. For that reason, I felt I had a little extra leeway to engage in repetitive high-risk activities around Oahu, if only for a week.

On day one of the mandate, I went to a restaurant in Waikiki which was packed with people watching a football game. I decided first to test the state’s SMART card, so I presented a QR code that I had downloaded from Safe Travels, and then printed and taped to the back of my ID card for convenience. (I thought it would be annoying every time I wanted to go someplace to have to thumb in my phone “travel.hawaii.gov” then login, then click SMART card, then scroll down to the QR code, then offer my cell phone and photo ID for scanning, so I cheated and printed the code instead.)

Numerous precautions are being taken in Oahu restaurants. Danny de Gracia/Civil Beat/2021

The restaurant wasn’t prepared for SMART cards, since most of the people who had come that day simply presented their paper Centers for Disease Control card. Luckily, as a contingency freak, I had already downloaded the Commons Project SMART Health Card Verifier App to my phone, so I scanned my QR code for them, which they accepted along with my photo ID, then asked me to scribble in a guest book my information for contact tracing. After that, I was free to dine in.

What I especially liked was the fact that once I showed proof of vaccination, they gave me a wristband to reflect that. Yay!

Everyone at the restaurant seemed to be happy, boisterous and enjoying their food and the football game. I didn’t see anyone offering resistance to being screened, and the restaurant looked pretty full. My sense? All good. My bill was $17, and I left a $20 tip for dealing with me in a pandemic.

Mid-week, I went to Ala Moana for Italian food. This time, I used my paper CDC card. Same procedure as before, no hang-ups. I counted a total of 11 guests in the restaurant. As before, everyone appeared to be having a great time, no one was grumpy at being carded, and I didn’t observe any freedom fights at the front door.

Finally, on Saturday, I decided to dine in my own community at a Waipahu Filipino restaurant. I used the CDC card, signed in for tracing and had my meal. A total of eight people were in the restaurant this time, and as before, no problems were observed.

For accountability, my final step this week was to test myself for Covid. I used an Ellume antigen digital home testing kit, and got negative results. Safe Access clearly worked.

Overall, I think the new mandate is a good thing. Some training may be needed both for businesses and the public in how to use/scan the state’s SMART card, but if you just carry the CDC card and an ID for now, you should be good.

After multiple occasions of dining out, the Safe Access program did its job in keeping the vaccinated author safe from COVID, for now. Danny de Gracia/Civil Beat/2021

The ultimate question we have to ask is if 77% of the eligible local population already went through the trouble of being fully vaccinated, why would all these people suddenly be ashamed or resistant to show proof of vaccination in a restaurant or gym? (Hint: They won’t be.)

All this protesting and doomsaying is much ado about nothing. Go get fully  vaccinated, and then go dining out. You’ll love it.


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About the Author

Danny de Gracia

Danny de Gracia is a resident of Waipahu, a political scientist and an ordained minister. Opinions are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Civil Beat's views. You can reach him by email at dgracia@civilbeat.org or follow him on Twitter at @ddg2cb.


Latest Comments (0)

I received an email from Safeway where I received my J&J vax in March and it was for me to fill in my info regarding date, Lot #, my birthday and name.  And you can upload a photo of yourself to it and a QR code is generated. I have that along with my CDC card that was uploaded to Safe Travels as well. It was simple.  I don't understand why people are so up in arms about all this. When the federal government mandated that seatbelts were to be worn every time you got into a vehicle, everyone went nuts...now look! Everyone wears them.  

alohalani · 3 weeks ago

Good work Danny!  It will be interesting to learn about the digital smartcard experiences of your readers.  I myself attempted to register with Safe Travels but was unsuccessful, despite 20+ attempts to do so using multiple devices.  I was vaccinated at one of the local hospitals on Oahu.  The Safe Travels help line was no help, and their hold time exceeds an hour.  Trust me when I tell you that I assertively pursued every avenue to remedy the situation, to no avail thus far. Despite my hesitation to share my unique personal indentifiers with strangers, I ventured out to two restaurants at Ala Moana as well as the Elk’s Club using my vaccination card & driver’s license.  All went smoothly.  I predict that customer volumes will increase under this system, as  the percentage of fully vaccinated individuals far exceeds those who remain unvaccinated. People will feel safe dining out.The State needs to put more effort into ironing out the digital components of the Safe Travels program.  Our economy is tied to the success of such programs, and we should all come to grips with the fact that this virus/variants will not be going away anytime soon.

be_data_driven · 3 weeks ago

The bigger question that has to be asked in all this is who is the real arbitors of the terms "freedom" and "liberty". For the purposes of where we are at now, to have the ability to choose whether you want to go to a restaurant or not is about the same as to whether you want to travel on a plane or not. There are procedures, there are requirements, you either fulfill the requirements to engage with that activity, or not. When your in a situation where that option was totally taken off the table (shutdowns or in the case of 9/11, total shutdown of the airlines), that is when you can start to question whether your liberties are being violated. Showing a card or a status at a restaurant for a period of time during the emergency is not beyond the scope of liberty, because your still able to choose how you want to engage in it. But complaining about it especially to the authorities when you 1. Don't have institutional power; and 2. the powers that be ain't listening to your bellyaching anyway, ain't going to do nothing more than create a lot of noise, CO2 from the bellyaching and produce zero changes. 

Kana_Hawaii · 3 weeks ago

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