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Hawaii will officially welcome tourists back on Nov. 1 after asking visitors to stay away for weeks, the state's governor said on Tuesday, according to reports.
Both non-essential and business travelers will be welcome to come back to the islands next month, Gov. David Ige told The Associated Press.
"I'm encouraged by the continuing trend of lower case counts of COVID in our islands. Our hospitals are doing better and seeing fewer patients. This gives us the ability to move forward in our economic recovery and safely welcome back fully vaccinated domestic travelers," Ige tweeted. "As always, we will continue to monitor case counts and hospitalizations in the islands and adjust as needed while prioritizing the health and safety of our residents."
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But while he wanted travelers to delay their trips due to rising cases of COVID-19 and increasing hospitalizations, Ige never officially paused the state's 'Safe Travels' program, which allows domestic visitors to skip quarantine if they arrive with proof of vaccination or proof of a negative test. The program was initially slated to end when Hawaii hit a 70% vaccination rate (which it has already reached on a statewide basis), but Ige has instead chosen to keep protocols in place.
The decision to once again welcome travelers with open arms comes as the United States as a whole prepares to open to vaccinated foreign tourists on Nov. 8.
"We're continuing to seek information from the federal government about plans for international travel and will have an appropriate plan in place prior to Nov. 8," Ige tweeted.
When travelers do decide to head back to Hawaii, they should do so responsibly, including searching for locally owned businesses, heeding all signs, and treading lightly by simple changes like wearing reef-safe sunscreen and picking up any trash they find at the beach.
Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she's not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.