Hawaii's Entry Requirements Just Changed. Here's What You Need to Know

Planning your next Hawaiian getaway just got a little bit easier

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If you're planning on traveling to Hawaii soon, your pre-departure checklist just got a bit shorter. 

Early last week, the state modified several of the requirements listed in its Safe Travels program—it's no longer requiring travelers to fill out a health questionnaire before departure, and quarantine time for unvaccinated domestic U.S. travelers has been cut to just five days.  

The program was implemented to help limit the spread of COVID-19 from travelers coming into the state via plane or ship. Initially, passengers were required to complete an online health questionnaire which was to be completed 24 hours before their departure. The program originally called for a mandatory 10-day quarantine for all unvaccinated travelers.

However, with new guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention coming out, Hawaii is adapting its Safe Travels program accordingly. As of now, passengers will receive a QR code once they finish filling out their trip information through the Safe Travels platform. They will receive that same information again the day before their scheduled departure, making processing time at the airport quicker. Unvaccinated travelers are now only required to quarantine for five days. However, bypassing the mandatory quarantine is as simple as getting yourself a negative COVID test 72 hours before departure. The other guidelines in the program, including temperature screenings upon arrival to all Hawaii airports and vaccination cards required in the program, will remain the same.

At the same time, with news of entry requirements easing, travelers interested in taking a cruise to the island can start to get excited too. Starting Jan. 15, 2022, Hawaii's ports will once again begin accepting cruise ships and passengers onto the islands. This port agreement between Carnival Cruise Line, Norwegian Cruise Lines, and The Hawaii Department of Transportation (HDOT) Harbors Division comes, of course, with a slew of safety protocols.

Each cruise ship must have on-site COVID-19 testing and a dedicated medical staff that, in the possibility of an outbreak, will be well equipped enough to limit the spread and possibly evacuate any passengers or crew who require care. All cruise ship passengers are also required to upload their proof of vaccination or negative COVID test into the Safe Travels platform.

Accepting cruise ships back to the island was an effort of many. "Developing these agreements with the goal of reducing potential negative impacts of cruise travel on our local health resources couldn't have happened without invaluable guidance from the Governor's Office, CDC, the Hawaii Department of Health, the Hawaii Department of Defense, the Office of Enterprise Technology Services, and county agencies," said Hawaii's Department of Transportation director Jade Butay. "We appreciate everyone, including the cruise line representatives, coming together to finalize the required agreements to fulfill the CDC Conditional Sailing Order."

Regardless of the many precautions taken, there is still a risk of infection, as Hawaii and the rest of the continental U.S. continue to see an uptick in cases. The state of Hawaii's COVID-19 portal warns, "It is important that travelers consider the duration and considerable expense of possible quarantine before embarking." According to the Hawaii Department of Health, there has been a 136 percent increase in cases in the state in the past few weeks.

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