Travelers to the Hawaiian island of Maui will now be required to download a mobile app to ensure they are notified if they come into contact with someone with COVID-19.
Visitors who participate in Hawaii's Safe Travels program, which allows travelers to skip the islands' mandatory quarantine by getting tested prior to arrival, will now have to either download the AlohaSafe Alert application or another Google-Apple exposure notification system app, according to the mayor of Maui. Travelers 18 and older will then have to show proof of the download to airport screeners or law enforcement officials.
The AlohaSafe Alert app uses Bluetooth technology to "ping" other phones that have downloaded the app, tracking the duration of each interaction and exchanging an anonymous code. If someone tests positive for the virus, they can notify the app, which will then anonymously alert other users of their possible exposure.
The free app considers a possible exposure to mean coming within 6 feet of someone for at least 15 cumulative minutes. The app does not track a user's location or identifiable information.
"The AlohaSafe app helps people know that they might have been exposed to the virus and should consider getting tested as soon as possible," Maui Mayor Michael Victorino said in a statement when the app was first launched on the island in December. "This is especially important now as our community awaits the broad distribution of the vaccine against the virus."
The app is compatible with iPhones with iOS 13.7 or later, and Android phones with Version 6 or above.
In addition to downloading the app, visitors to Maui will have to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test from a trusted travel partner and complete the State of Hawaii Safe Travels online application at least 24 hours before their departure.
Other states have deployed similar notification apps, including in New York and New Jersey. Those apps also utilize Bluetooth technology to notify someone of their potential exposure.
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.
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