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Visiting Hawaii is about to get easier for vaccinated travelers.
Beginning July 8,the state will end its pre-travel COVID testing requirement for visitors from the U.S. mainland who are fully vaccinated, Hawaii Gov. David Ige said Thursday. Travelers will need to show their vaccine card as well as upload it to the state's Safe Travels website.
"I know that this change has been widely anticipated and it will make it easier for residents to return home and for visitors to come and enjoy our islands,'' Ige said at a news conference.
Ige has said for weeks that Hawaii would lift travel restrictions for vaccinated visitors when 60% of the state's population was fully vaccinated. The figure has been stuck at 57% and Ige said earlier this week that it wouldn't meet that level ahead of the July 4th holiday weekend. He said Thursday it expects to reach the benchmark on July 8.
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Hawaii Lieutenant Gov. Josh Green had been pushing for the lifting of restrictions or at least a date when they be lifted ahead of July 4th travel so travelers weren't left in limbo.
“It’s just really important that Hawaii not get a black eye by being unclear,” Green said earlier this week.
The testing requirement has been in place since October and has been the only way for tourists to bypass Hawaii's mandatory quarantine, which started at 14 days and now stands at 10 days.
To protect residents, the isolated state instituted some of the most stringent COVID-19 travel rules and restrictions. Hawaii only accepts a Nucleic Acid Amplification Test (NAAT) from a certified lab on its approved travel partner list. The test has to be taken no earlier than 72 hours before the departing flight to Hawaii — the final leg of the flight from the mainland for those with connections on their way to paradise — and the results must be uploaded before the flight departs. Testing upon arrival is not allowed.
The rules have tripped up plenty of travelers. The state doesn't make exceptions so would-be vacationers who arrive with the wrong test or without test results find themselves stuck in their hotel or vacation rental, with daily checks from authorities and food left outside the door, or on the next flight home.
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Hawaii travel: Vaccinated visitors can skip COVID test starting July 8