HONOLULU(KHON2) — Tuesday, June 15, marked the start of the vaccine exemption that allows travelers vaccinated in Hawaii to bypass quarantine after returning from the mainland.
It was smooth sailing for most, but some reported minor hiccups in the process.
It was a very busy day at the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport and most of the travelers were happy to be able to fly home without having to get tested.
Safe Travels Hawaii coordinator Sheri Kajiwara said it was a big day for transpacific travelers vaccinated in Hawaii.
“You can now use your vaccination as a form of exemption from the quarantine,” she explained.
Honolulu resident Evelyn Berut and her family returned home from a trip to California.
“I love the vaccine pass,” Berut said. “You know, you check-in and we skipped all the lines. It’s nice to be back home without those tests.”
Mila Sapolu Jr., of Nanakuli said it the second trip he had taken and it allowed him to spend more time with his family rather than coordinating how to get tested.
“Last time I did a test and it was very similar to the COVID test,” Sapolu said. “The only differences is there’s a different place in the app for you to upload your vaccine card and it was quick. The only problem was when the people that scanned it, they were also new to it, so there was kind of like a little stumble there but other than that it was pretty easy and pretty quick.”
Everyone has to be screened, whether they use a vaccination card or test prior to arrival. Opting to do pre-screening to get a wristband before departure is the way to go.
“Just flash it like that golden ticket and you can go right out,” Kajiwara said.
The line for travelers with QR codes waiting to be screened during peak travel times stretched for at least 200 yards and zig-zagged through the open-air walkway.
A Department of Transportation employee said the lines have been like this almost every day since visitor numbers picked up.
Many who were stuck waiting in line were frustrated and said they felt there needs to be a better system.
Not everyone understands the rules when they get to the islands.
“Unfortunately, we do have some people that feel a mainland-issued vaccination card will be accepted so we have to let them know it won’t,” Kajiwara said.
“I thought today it started that if you were vaccinated but it turns out it’s only if you’re vaccinated from here so I was like, ‘Oh I guess I misinterpreted it,’” said California visitor Daisy Matias. “But it would be nice if everybody that is vaccinated gets to be allowed in without having to do the 72-hour testing.”
Kajiwara wanted to remind travelers should make sure to bring their vaccination card with them even if they uploaded it to the Safe Travels app, just in case. The vaccination exemption is for transpacific travel — it does not include international travel.