American Samoa is reopening to travel from Hawaii with twice-monthly flights from Honolulu.
Beginning Monday, travelers will be able to fly on Hawaiian Airlines to the U.S. territory’s capital, Pago Pago, so long as they have proof of vaccination and three negative tests for Covid-19.
The territory closed its borders in March 2020 and has kept strong precautionary measures throughout the pandemic, only allowing a series of repatriation flights from Hawaii earlier this year. It has no recorded cases, except for four aboard container ships, and just half the population has been fully vaccinated.
American Samoa charted a number of medical flights and “test flights” ahead of the reestablishment of its link with Hawaii, to test its Talofa Pass system and to bring in essential medical and government staff. It also charted a series of Hawaiian Airlines flights to repatriate almost 2,000 residents between Jan. 29 and July 29.
It had previously scheduled an Aug. 26 reopening, but the implementation of Talofa Passand a surge in Covid-19 cases in the South Pacific and Hawaii delayed plans.
Though vaccinations are mandatory for incoming travelers, American Samoa’s Lt. Gov. Talauega Eleasalo V. Ale has “resisted mandating anything to our people.” A $100 per dose incentive is being given to residents until Oct. 15, according to Samoa News.
Hawaiian Airlines ran twice-weekly flights to Pago Pago before it closed its borders last year. The new twice-monthly schedule has been confirmed until Dec. 20, when it will be reevaluated by Hawaiian Airlines and the American Samoan government.
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Thomas Heaton is a Li Center for Global Journalism Fellow. The position is supported by the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and the Institute for Nonprofit News. You can reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @thomasheaton.