In a shift that may help boost international travel to Hawaii, Gov. David Ige announced Tuesday that non-U.S. citizens traveling directly to the islands from any international location can bypass quarantine here if they provide proof of vaccination and a negative Covid-19 test.

U.S. citizens who travel to Hawaii from international destinations will have similar requirements that will allow them to bypass Hawaii’s 10-day quarantine by showing proof of vaccination and proof of a negative Covid-19 test within three days of boarding their flights.

Unvaccinated U.S. citizens will need to show a negative Covid-19 test taken within one day of boarding their flights to the U.S.

The new rules take effect Monday, and the federal government is requiring airlines to screen both citizens and non-citizens before they depart for Hawaii on international flights.

The latest modification to the state’s travel restrictions is meant to align Hawaii’s travel requirements with changes in the federal restrictions that also kick in on Monday.

Governor David Ige speaks during press conference held at Prince David Kawananakoa Middle School.
Gov. David Ige also announced changes in the 50% capacity restrictions for bars and restaurants in counties where patrons are required to show proof of vaccination or a recent negative test for Covid-19. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2021

Travelers will be prevented from boarding planes if they fail to meet the new requirements, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will conduct spot checks to enforce those mandates, Ige said.

“We do want to welcome more travelers, especially those from international sites,” Ige told reporters at a news conference Tuesday. “We are ready. We don’t expect an immediate surge in international travelers. We do expect to see increases through the month of November and December, and into next year.”

Looking at the policies of other nations, Ige said his administration is working to convince other countries to drop the quarantines that they impose on their citizens who visit Hawaii and then return home.

Those return quarantines sharply limited international travel to the islands, but Ige said Japan is expected to drop its return quarantine by the first quarter of 2022.

The current Safe Travels requirements for travel from other parts of the U.S. to Hawaii will remain in place.

Ige also announced tweaks to the state’s emergency pandemic restrictions at Hawaii restaurants, bars, gyms and “social establishments,” changes he approved in another emergency executive order on Tuesday.

Patrons who are indoors at restaurants and bars will still be required to wear masks except when actively eating or drinking, and groups must remain 6 feet apart without mingling with other groups.

However, as of Nov. 12, outdoor dining and activities will no longer be subject to any of those restrictions, Ige said.

Another change will apply to Honolulu and Maui indoor gyms, restaurants, bars and social establishments, which are currently limited to 50% of capacity. As of Nov. 12, that 50% pandemic-related indoor capacity limit will not apply in Honolulu and Maui.

That’s because Ige’s new policy drops the 50% capacity restrictions for gyms, restaurants, bars and social establishments in counties that require proof of vaccination or a negative Covid-19 test to enter.

Honolulu and Maui now require restaurant and bar patrons to provide proof of vaccination or proof of a negative test for Covid-19 within the past 48 hours before customers can enter, but Kauai and Hawaii counties do not.

Ige acknowledged his new policy was deliberately crafted with an eye on Kauai and Hawaii counties.

“It is about finding a balance,” Ige said. “Kauai and Hawaii island do not need to make any changes in regards to restaurants, bars and other indoor activities. For those counties that want to reduce the capacity restrictions, they are able to if they institute a policy of verifying vaccinations or requiring a test within 48 hours.”

In other words, restaurants and bars on Kauai and Hawaii island will still be subject to a 50% limit unless those counties change their policies and begin requiring vaccination or testing checks at the door.

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