Honolulu’s COVID-19 Vaccine Passports for Businesses

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Honolulu’s COVID-19 Vaccine Passports for Businesses

Honolulu Mayor Rich Blangiardi recently announced the region’s new “Safe Access O’ahu” program, which was designed in coordination with local businesses to stop further shutdowns while reducing the recent surge of COVID-19 cases. This program requires a variety of Honolulu employers to acquire proof of vaccination or a negative test result from workers and customers alike prior to entering an establishment. This program also presents a number of additional requirements, including mask mandates, posting requirements, and limiting the sale of liquor to specific hours.

Establishments covered by this new program include:

  • All entertainment establishments: This includes, for example, theaters, museums, and zoos. 
  • All businesses offering food or drink consumed on the premises: This includes, for example, restaurants, grocery stores, and bars.
  • Indoor recreational facilities: This could include gyms, pools, and virtually any business offering activities with an indoor component.

Businesses covered by these rules must abide by a number of requirements. First of all, they must submit an attestation of compliance as well as develop a plan for implementing the requirements of the program. Clear signage must be posted regarding the requirements in a place visible to all individuals prior to entering, either using the provided sample or another that meets the required standards. The sale of liquor products for on-premises consumption must cease at 10:00 p.m. at the latest.

Beginning on September 13th, businesses must begin verifying before permitting entry that all individuals 12 and over have received a vaccination or a negative test result. This includes all employees, contractors, and volunteers. If a worker does not submit proof of vaccination, they may submit an FDA-approved COVID-19 antigen or molecular test on a weekly basis. This means, at most, the test must have been within the prior seven days in order to enter.

Patrons must submit proof of vaccination and a matching ID with a name and photo or a name and date of birth. This could be a driver’s license or passport, among others. Those submitting a negative test result must have received an FDA-approved test within the last 48 hours in order to enter.

Both vaccinated, and unvaccinated individuals alike must wear masks at all times unless actively eating or drinking. For vendors that will be on the premises for less than 15 minutes, no proof of vaccination or test results are required, but face masks must still be worn.

Proof of vaccination can include a hard copy or photo of a state-issued vaccination card as well as state-approved digital confirmation of vaccination status. This must demonstrate that at least two weeks have passed since either the second shot of a two-shot vaccine was received or since a single-shot vaccine was received.

State and federal rules barring discrimination on the basis of disability and religion still apply. So, it is important to engage in the interactive process with workers and patrons to determine if a reasonable accommodation can be made for those who cannot receive a vaccine or negative test result.

Penalties for non-compliance with these new laws can include a fine of $5,000 as well as up to one year of incarceration.