Such a document would enable safe travel to and from the Hawaiian islands, authorities in the Aloha State explained.
Hawaii Lt. Gov. Josh Green said that state health officials wish to utilize an app to show proof that someone has been vaccinated against COVID-19. He told Honolulu news outlet KHON 2 that authorities will enlist the help of health technology firm First Vitals to make this app a reality. "They would be able to verify the health record [of travelers] … [and] then encrypt it so people can't steal someone's health record," Green explained.
The lieutenant governor said the digital passport would only contain people's name, information whether they got vaccinated or not and the date of their vaccination. For now, Green said travelers can use their COVID-19 vaccination cards for this purpose – until the app is ready for rollout.
Green expressed interest to pilot the system using the vaccination cards for inter-island travel. "I think that makes a lot of sense. It would immediately empower probably about half of our travelers inside the islands to travel safely," he said.
Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association President and CEO Mufi Hannemann also agreed with the idea of a vaccine passport. The former mayor of Honolulu said it would allow families that live in Hawaii's islands to visit each other after a while. "This will allow that kind of travel to take place without the additional cost of being tested," he remarked.
The final decision over the vaccine passport app is in the hands of Gov. David Ige.
Hawaii's vaccine passport proposal came amid a move by state lawmakers to standardize travel restrictions across all the Hawaiian islands. In February 2021, members of the Hawaii State Legislature introduced a bill for that purpose. Under the current system, counties can require people to quarantine for 10 days and implement additional requirements such as secondary testing or modified quarantine.
The state's Safe Travels program only requires travelers to submit a single negative COVID-19 test result before leaving for Hawaii. This allows travelers to avoid a mandatory quarantine.
Under the proposed bill, all Hawaiian counties will only allow travelers to be exempted from quarantines if they get a negative COVID-19 test under the state’s program.
While the Aloha State is still mulling a vaccine passport program, the Empire State has already launched its own version of a digital vaccine pass. State officials in New York have launched the Excelsior Pass that New Yorkers can download to prove that they have been vaccinated or have tested negative for the Wuhan coronavirus. (Related: OBEY: New York becomes first state to launch "vaccine passport" for coronavirus jab recipients.)
The Excelsior Pass is similar to a mobile airline boarding pass, using a secure QR code that can either be stored in a smartphone or printed out. New York officials said it will be accepted at major entertainment venues such as Madison Square Garden and the Times Union Center in Albany. They added that the pass's technology does not store or track private health data within the app.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement that the Excelsior Pass was successfully tested during a Feb. 27 basketball game at Barclays Center featuring the Brooklyn Nets basketball team. It was then tested for a second time on March 2 at the Madison Square Garden during a hockey match featuring the New York Rangers. (Related: New Yorkers need "coronavirus passport" to enter stadiums and theaters under new pilot program that smacks of medical tyranny.)
Cuomo said the "innovative" Excelsior Pass is another tool for New York to fight the virus and safely reopen the economy.