Hawaii to drop virus test, quarantine for vaccinated domestic travelers

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FILE PHOTO: The TSA line at the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport is near empty due to the business downturn caused by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Honolulu

(Reuters) - Hawaii will from July 8 drop a requirement for pre-travel coronavirus testing and quarantine upon arrival for domestic travelers who have been fully vaccinated in the United States, Governor David Ige said on Thursday.

"Hawaii is expected to reach a 60% fully vaccinated rate by July 8. Because of that, we will be able to safely relax some of the travel and social restrictions currently in place", the governor said on Twitter.

"Social gatherings will increase to 25 indoors and 75 outdoors statewide. Restaurants can also increase to 75% capacity", he said.

Tourism has traditionally been a big part of Hawaii's economy. More than 10.4 million visitors came to the islands in 2019 before the COVID-19 pandemic, supporting more than 200,000 jobs in a population of about 1.4 million, according to the state tourism authority.

At one point during the early months of the coronavirus outbreak, the state considered sweeping use of GPS-enabled ankle bracelets or smartphone tracking apps to enforce stay-at-home orders given to arriving air passengers.

However, that plan was put on the back burner after the Hawaii attorney general's office raised concerns.

Hawaii has recorded more than 37,000 cases of COVID-19 and over 510 deaths, according to the state's department of health.

(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Robert Birsel)

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