Hawaii will not require vaccinated travelers to have a Covid-19 booster shot to avoid testing and quarantine when entering the state, Gov. David Ige announced Tuesday after considering such a move for the past month.

This comes as the state is seeing a wave of omicron-driven Covid cases recede, with its seven-day average dropping 75% from a pandemic high of 4,661 cases in mid-January to 1,142 cases Tuesday, according to state numbers.

Maui Mayor Mike Victorino also rolled back booster requirements for people looking to go to the gym or dine indoors, effective Monday. Maui had been the only county to require booster shots to be considered fully vaccinated as part of its “Safer Outside” program.

in line to get thru security
Hawaii already requires travelers to be vaccinated, provide a negative Covid test or undergo a five-day quarantine upon arrival. It won’t add a Covid booster shot to the list. Ludwig Laab/Civil Beat/2021

Hawaii hospitalizations have also plummeted by 50%, to 204 beds occupied Tuesday, but still remain six times higher than pre-omicron levels.

There was much speculation on when Ige would make his choice after he announced he was considering requiring a booster for vaccinated travelers looking to avoid a five-day quarantine or a Covid test as part of the state’s Safe Travels program.

Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi suggested last month that the governor was considering a Feb. 18 date to begin requiring boosters. Ige did not confirm the date, however, he did tell KHON2 in late January that the requirement was imminent.

In announcing his decision Tuesday, Ige cited Hawaii’s declining case and hospitalization rates and said he took into consideration Hawaii’s high vaccination rates, with more than 75% of the state fully vaccinated.

A screen shot of Hawaii's Safe Travels website
A screenshot of Hawaii’s Safe Travels website. Ige will not require travelers to get boosted in order to avoid quarantine or testing. Screenshot/2022

With Covid cases in decline across the U.S., many Democrat-led states have begun easing pandemic precautions.

New Jersey, Connecticut, Delaware and Oregon all announced the imminent end of their school mask mandates Monday, and California said it would allow its indoor-mask mandate for vaccinated residents to expire on Feb. 15.

Hawaii will not be relaxing restrictions yet, Ige said in the press release.

“At this time, we will also maintain the indoor mask mandate and other rules that have helped us manage this pandemic while reopening the economy,” Ige said.

Hawaii has struggled with raising its booster rates, with just under 36% of fully vaccinated residents opting for another jab. Hawaii Department of Health director Libby Char still urged residents to get boosted following Ige’s decision, citing evidence that a third shot of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines is over 90% effective at keeping people out of the hospital for Covid.

“Omicron case counts are dropping but we don’t know if or when we may see another surge in cases of COVID-19,” Char said in the press release. “Getting vaccinated and boosted now will help to prevent you from becoming seriously ill.”

Help power our public service journalism

As a local newsroom, Civil Beat has a unique public service role in times of crisis.

That’s why we’re committed to a paywall-free website and subscription-free content, so we can get vital information out to everyone, from all communities.

We are deploying a significant amount of our resources to covering the Maui fires, and your support ensures that we can pivot when these types of emergencies arise.

Make a gift to Civil Beat today and help power our nonprofit newsroom.

About the Author