Hawaii reportedly may soon require that travelers have their booster shot, otherwise they will have to self-isolate for five days upon arrival at their own expense.

State governor David Ige told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser via Hawaii News Now that the plan to update the state's entry rules is still in its early stages and plenty of notice would be given to potential travelers ahead of any changes. He also confirmed that people who have already booked trips would not have to meet the booster requirement.

Mr Ige said the government is also considering making it mandatory for people to have their boosters to access certain venues, activities and events. Maui has already made boosters a requirement to enter places such as restaurants, bars and gyms in place of a negative test. 

Just weeks ago Hawaii updated its entry rules to make it easier for travelers to visit by reducing its mandatory quarantine period in half in line with recommendations from the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Effective January 1, the quarantine period has been cut from 10 to five days and visitors are no longer required to fill in a questionnaire 24 hours before their flight.

Despite the relaxed rules, Hawaii is dealing with record-breaking case numbers and some measures remain in place to halt the spread of COVID-19, including some capacity limits, social distancing and the requirement for people to wear masks in indoor public spaces.

If you have a trip booked to Hawaii, or are thinking about visiting, here are the latest rules.

Read more: This Hawaiian island plans for fewer visitors as it pushes for sustainable tourism

People and a dog enjoy the evening at Waikiki Beach,
The success of Hawaii's vaccination campaign and COVID measures means the state has recorded relatively low case numbers compared to the mainland ©Getty Images

I'm vaccinated, can I travel to Hawaii?

As of November 8, fully vaccinated international visitors are permitted to travel to Hawaii provided they are fully vaccinated and test negative for COVID-19 no more than one day before traveling. Anyone aged 18 and over will need to register their trip details online through Hawaii's Safe Travels program portal and upload their test results before boarding their flight. The rules could change in the next two weeks and what it means to be fully vaccinated may include having a booster shot if travelers wish to bypass the five-day qurantine requirement.

Americans can visit Hawaii regardless of vaccination status.

Read more: 4 ways Hawaii is coping with a tourist influx as COVID-19 restrictions lift

What if I'm not vaccinated?

Americans can travel to Hawaii regardless of vaccination status. However, international visitors must be fully vaccinated as per the entry rules for the United States. There are some exeptions, including children under the age of 17. Domestic travelers who don't meet the requirements of  the Safe Travels program must quarantine for five days or for the duration of their stay in Hawaii, whichever is shorter.

Tourists Sunbathing on Waikiki Beach
Beaches are open in Hawaii ©Jon Hicks/Getty Images

Are there any additional restrictions?

Anyone arriving at any of the islands' airports may be chosen at random to take a test but this will be free of charge and you won't have to wait long to get your results. And all travelers, regardless of where they're coming from, must register their trip details through the Safe Travels program or quarantine for five days.

Do I need to take a COVID-19 test before leaving Hawaii?

It depends on the entry requirements of your destination. At present, travelers flying domestically within the US to Hawaii are not required the get a test before returning to the mainland US—something required by the CDC when returning from international travel.

Hikers on hiking trail, Waianapanapa State Park, Maui, Hawaii
National parks are open but not all services and facilities are operating ©Getty Images/Image Source

What COVID-19 restrictions are in place?

Most venues are open in Hawaii, including hotels, restaurants, museums, bars and cultural attractions though some capacity restrictions apply. Masks are required in indoor public spaces, and social distancing guidelines apply too, though rules may vary slightly across counties.

Beaches and hiking trails are open across the state, and national parks are accepting visitors too, though not all services and facilities are up and running. Check ahead before planning a visit to see the latest rules. According to the tourism board, "National Park Service-managed parks, historic sites and memorials in Hawaii are gradually increasing access and services to their sites and facilities utilizing a phased approach". You can find a list of open and closed sites at the National Park Service’s Hawai‘i webpage.

Health passes in Hawaii

O'ahu introduced the Safe Access O'ahu program in September. The program requires people over the age of 12 to present a vaccination certificate or proof of a negative COVID-19 test before entering venues such as restaurants, bars, museums, theaters, arcades and gyms.

Maui introduced a similar scheme that requires people to show proof of vaccination to dine indoors and to visit gyms. As of January 4, people will need to have received their booster at least six months after receiving either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or two months after a Johnson & Johnson vaccine, or take a negative COVID-19 test 48 hours prior.

The best beaches in Hawaii

If you are planning a trip to Hawaii at any time this year, please monitor the local situation before travel and stay up-to-date on public health guidelines. Further information on Hawaii's entry requirements are available on the tourist board's website.

You might also like:

How to visit Hawaii on a budget
Introducing Hawaii's national parks
The 10 best hikes in Hawaii

This article was first published June 2020 and updated January 2022

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