The state is poised to roll out a COVID vaccine passport to get into gyms, bars, and restaurants. The governor says he hopes to have it up and running by Labor Day.
Businesses would not be required to implement the vaccine passport. Some say it would actually be a lot simpler if the state just mandated it.
Other cities like New York and San Francisco have already started requiring vaccine passports. But there, it’s mandatory. So while there has been some backlash, most of it is not toward the businesses themselves. Hawaii business owners find themselves in a tough spot having to make the choice.
“It’s a complicated decision, and so as a business owner, we have to take so many factors into consideration. If the state mandates it, then it takes that decision out off our hands,” said Greg Waibel, president and CEO of YMCA of Honolulu.
The state calls it a digital smart health card and says it would work the same way as the Safe Travels vaccine exception, where people would have to upload a copy of the vaccination card to a secure website.
Waibel says gyms like the YMCA already have a similar system in place, so the transition would be easy.
“We would make it pretty simple. You show it, especially if you’re vaccinated, one time, we’d mark you as a vaccinated person, so you don’t have to continue to show the pass,” he said.
Waibel adds that those who are not vaccinated will have to show proof of a negative COVID test. Many other businesses, however, have concerns about how it’s supposed to work.
“Liability issue, how to enforce this and how employers and employees will have to manage this, because they are the ones that would have to check the passport,” said Sherry Menor-McNamara, president of the Chamber of Commerce Hawaii.
She says businesses will need more guidance from the state before they consider implementing it.
The state says it’s still in the early stages of developing it, and sent a statement saying, “Details of the smart health card will continuously evolve until the project is released for public use.”