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The state of Hawaii has reversed course and will not be mandating that travelers to the islands show proof of a booster shot in order to be considered fully vaccinated against the coronavirus.
In a statement on Tuesday, Hawaii Gov. David Ige (D) said the decision not to mandate boosters stemmed from the declining coronavirus case count.
“There has been much speculation about booster requirements for travelers arriving in Hawaiʻi. I want to emphasize that the program remains unchanged at this time and boosters will not be required for up-to-date status,” he announced on Tuesday.
“All four county mayors, the DOH, and visitor industry leaders have coordinated closely in making this decision – which took into account declining COVID-19 case counts and hospitalizations, as well as Hawaiʻi’s robust vaccination rate,” he added.
Ige still encouraged people to get their booster shot as “one of the best defenses against” the coronavirus.
Last month, it was reported that Hawaii would be requiring booster shots for travelers to the islands. Under the state’s current “Safe Travels” program, visitors to the state must quarantine for five days or test negative for the coronavirus within one day of travel if they are not fully vaccinated, which previously meant two doses of the Pfizer/Moderna vaccines or one dose of Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The proposed update would have included booster shots in order for people to skip quarantine.
Prior to those initial reports, Maui Mayor Michael Victorino announced that booster shots would be required for locals to be considered fully vaccinated, but, according to the Associated Press, Maui “ended its booster mandate for businesses like bars, restaurants and gyms” on Monday.
Hawaii had been notorious for having strict quarantine and vaccine passport laws to the point that even famed music producer Rick Ruben got caught up in the dragnet. Per Consquence.net:
Famed producer Rick Rubin has been charged with violating Hawaii’s COVID-19 quarantine protocols, according to the local Kauai newspaper The Garden Island. His next court date is February 9th, 2021.
Kauai County and the state of Hawaii require off-island visitors to quarantine for 14 days. But on September 2nd, Rubin was spotted walking along Anini Beach near his resort before his two-week isolation had ended. The beach was empty, and Rubin was alone except for a member of the paparazzi that had reportedly been following him since his arrival on the island. A passerby took a cell phone video and reported Rubin to the authorities.
The infraction carries a maximum fine of $5,000 and potential jail time. Since Rubin was strolling on a deserted beach, and not hosting superspreader parties, it is unlikely that a guilty verdict would incur a severe sentence.
Hawaii’s decision to hold back on requiring booster shots comes as several blue states have begun to slightly scale back coronavirus restrictions, most likely to reduce the temperature and avoid the kind of protests that have rocked Canada in recent weeks. On Tuesday, the Democrat governor of Illinois, for instance, said the state’s mask mandates will come to an end by March 1.
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