Kids 5 to 11 not eligible for July 8 vaccine exemption

Hawaii next week will lift travel restrictions for domestic travelers who have been vaccinated on the mainland, but keiki under 12 must still test negative for COVID-19 prior to arrival.

“Travelers aged 5 years to 11 years old are not eligible for vaccine exception and may bypass quarantine requirements by adhering to Safe Travels pretesting and county testing requirements,” Jodi Leong, a spokeswoman for Gov. David Ige, confirmed by email.

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When asked if an entire family will have to quarantine if children haven’t received a negative test result prior to arrival, even if others in the party have been fully vaccinated, Leong said yes, but reiterated that young travelers 5-11 may bypass the quarantine requirements by following state and county testing protocols.

Currently, three COVID-19 vaccinations have been authorized for emergency use, but only the one from Pfizer is approved for use in children as young as 12.

Ross Birch, executive director of the Island of Hawaii Visitors Bureau, said the visitors bureau is working to update its website and materials about the new testing requirements.

“As more of the mainland is opening up, we’re seeing less and less people asking these questions,” Birch. “More assumptions are being made about what is and isn’t allowed.”

For the most part, Birch said he doesn’t think the testing requirement for children will deter families from visiting.

“They already had plans to come here,” Birch said.

On the other hand, Burch worried that some states, such as California and Florida, have reduced their COVID restrictions over the past months and have closed down or reduced availability of testing sites, which could limit families’ abilities to get properly tested within 72 hours of arrival.

Ige announced last week that travel and gathering restrictions will relax July 8, when 60% of Hawaii’s population is expected to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

On that date, Hawaii will eliminate its pretravel testing and quarantine requirement for domestic travelers who are fully vaccinated in the United States.

Travelers must upload their CDC-issued vaccination records into the state’s Safe Travels program and must bring a hard copy of their vaccination record with them.

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Email Stephanie Salmons at ssalmons@hawaiitribune-herald.com

Email Mike Brestovansky at mbrestovansky@hawaiitribune-herald.com

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