The Island of Oahu announced yesterday that, starting September 13th, all customers must show proof of the COVID-19 vaccine or a negative test in order to eat at restaurants, drink at bars, and visit a number of other establishments, like gyms, movie theaters, and museums. Called “Safe Access Oahu,” the new mandate comes in response to the growing case numbers on the island that had officials warning the public of potential restrictions and even a lockdown as recently as last week. Naturally, feelings were mixed amongst business owners, who will be responsible for enforcing the mandate on the ground, and have about two weeks to get ready for the program’s implementation. Under the additional rules passed earlier this month, restaurants are already operating at 50% capacity and no “mingling” is allowed in bars. For vaccinated travelers, their ability to frequent such establishments will not be inhibited. Unvaccinated travelers, however, will have a tedious go of it. Unvaccinated travelers will need to present a negative COVID-19 test, taken within the last 48 hours. Doing this once may not be much of a problem, but the process of testing every few days in order to go out to eat is probably unsustainable in the long run. Going to the gym is probably out of the question as well. The mandate also applies to “commercial recreational boating,” which means that many tours will also need to operate under the rules. The State of Hawaii still does not require visitors to be vaccinated in order to visit, and children under 12 are exempt from the requirements of the new mandate. But there’s no question that, going forward, things will continue to be inconvenient for the unvaccinated in Hawaii. If you’re planning to visit this fall, you’ll need to be vaccinated or willing to undergo a myriad of testing to experience the island as usual. The Safe Access Oahu program will last for 60 days and then be revisited upon its expiration.
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