Safe Travels to End, Indoor Masks Stay
By Catherine Cluett Pactol
The State of Hawaii took some big steps to continue ending COVID mandates last week. Gov. Ige announced the Safe Travels program, which requires vaccination proof, negative COVID test results or quarantine options upon entering the state, will end on March 25. Additionally, state and county employees will no longer be required to show vaccination status or negative test results. However, masks will continue to be required indoors, Ige said.
The state’s current emergency period is set to end on March 25, sunsetting many of the remaining COVID requirements. Beginning at 12:01 am, Mar. 26, passengers arriving from domestic points of origin will not have to show proof of a COVID-19 vaccination or a pre-travel negative test result. Incoming passengers will also no longer be required to create a Safe Travels account or provide travelers information and trip details. Travelers arriving in the State of Hawaii now through Mar. 25, are still subject to Safe Travels requirements, according to Ige.
“We started the Safe Travels program to protect the health, lives, and livelihoods of the people of Hawaii,” said Ige on March 1. “The program put in place safety protocols that included a multi-layered screening and testing approach that kept our communities safe during the COVID-19 surges that endangered the most vulnerable of our citizens. Right now, we are seeing lower case counts, and hospitalizations are coming down.”
On Molokai, the Dept. of Health reported just three positive cases in the past week between Friday, Feb. 25 and Friday, March 4, all on Tuesday, March 1. Statewide, there has been an average 160 positive cases per day over the same period.
In the meantime, the state’s mask mandate will remain in place for now.
“Many states dropped their mask mandates earlier in the pandemic, only to have to reinstate them once the Delta variant surged,” said Ige. “Hawaii maintained its mask mandate and our consistency helped to keep COVID case numbers and hospitalizations as low as possible during the surge. It is also one of the reasons Hawaii has the second lowest death rate in the country. We are watching disease activity closely across the state, the country, and globally, and we will adjust accordingly to keep our entire community healthy – from keiki to kupuna.”
The Dept. Of Education confirmed it continues to require “masking both indoors and outdoors on school campuses at this time as an added layer of protection.”