The Coronavirus is certainly causing concern around the world. It seems like there’s news about it every minute of the day. We are closely following the situation and updating this article as well as our original Coronavirus in Hawaii article on a daily basis.
Is Hawaii a safe destination to visit during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Overall, Hawaii has experienced a relatively low infection rate compared to most of the other US states.
To review Hawaii COVID-19 data and trends, see hawaiicovid19.com/dashboard/ You can look at Hawaii as a whole, plus some charts allow you to filter by island county.
Positive COVID-19 cases have been identified on all islands. The vast majority of COVID-19 cases have been on Oahu, which is the most populated island.
Over 80% of the cases were brought to Hawaii by residents who traveled outside of the state. The virus continues to spread in the community.
In late July, the state started experiencing consecutive days of record-breaking case numbers. That surge in cases has continued well into August. Oahu is the epicenter of “exponentially” increasing cases. This increase began to push local healthcare systems. Many of the infections have been tied to social gatherings such as beach parties, birthday parties and sadly, funerals. Thankfully, Hawaii’s late summer surge has reduced significantly.
What should I do if I have an upcoming trip to Hawaii?
The new pre-travel testing program gives travelers the option to avoid the 14-day quarantine by presenting proof of a negative result of a COVID-19 test taken within 72-hours of the departure time of the traveler’s final leg of travel. This new process was implemented on October 15, 2020.
A new restriction will go into effect November 24, 2020 that requires that travelers must receive their test result before the departure of the final leg of travel. If results are not received by departure time, the traveler must quarantine for 14 days or the duration of their stay, whichever time is less. Based on the data collected through mid-November 2020, approximately 6% of travelers do not receive their COVID results before their travel.
Another new restriction that went in effect December 2, 2020, is that Kauai has opted out of the state’s pre-travel testing program. All travelers arriving in Kauai must quarantine for
14 10 days. Check for Kauai’s specific restrictions and requirements here.
Travelers who do not take a pre-travel test must be quarantined for
14 10 days and will not be able to test out of quarantine. Please note that effective December 17, 2020, the quarantine period was reduced from 14 days to 10 days.
The process of traveling to Hawaii is a bit more complicated in this new COVID-19 era. See this flowchart to understand the new procedures and how they flow. Also, a very, very useful site to review and follow is Getting to Hawaii. We highly recommend you thoroughly review and follow that page.
One of the first things the state of Hawaii wants travelers to do is to complete a mandatory Safe Travels Form as soon as flights are booked. See this page for questions and help with completing the application.
The next biggest step is to obtain a pre-travel COVID-19 test from one of Hawaii’s approved testing partners. See this page for a list of testing partners. Tests are to be taken within 72 hours of the final leg of departure for your flights to Hawaii.
Within 24 hours of your flights to Hawaii, you will need to log into your Safe Travels account and answer some health questions. After you receive a negative test result, you are to upload those results into your Safe Travels account. If you have not received your test result by the time of arrival, you must go into quarantine until you receive your negative result, load it into the Safe Travels application and are released from quarantine.
See www.HawaiiCOVID19.com/travel/ for many frequently asked questions and their answers about traveling to Hawaii under the new procedures. If you have questions that are not answered at HawaiiCOVID19.com/travel, call 1-800-GO-HAWAII.
Note that some islands may require second tests. At implementation of the pre-travel testing program, the islands started the following additional tests:
- Big Island requires a25% of passengers to take a second test upon arrival.
- Kauai asks travelers to take a second test.
- Maui asks travelers to take a second test.
- Oahu would like to add a second test.
- Statewide surveillance testing will be done with a random selection of 10% of incoming travelers.
Note that these tests and requirements are all subject to change.
Each island county has additional guidance and rules. See their websites to determine what they require:
- Hawaii County (Big Island) hawaiicounty.gov
- Maui County is composed of the islands of Maui, Lanai and Molokai. The website for Maui County is mauicounty.gov.
- City and County of Honolulu is composed of the entire island of Oahu. The website for the City and County of Honolulu is honolulu.gov.
- Kauai County – kauai.gov
If you are traveling to more than one Hawaiian Island, make sure you know of restrictions of traveling from one to another as there have been various inter-island quarantines that also last 10-days. Some islands may offer an option to get a pre-travel test for the inter-island travel in order to be exempt from an inter-island quarantine.
Kauai has implemented extra restrictions.
If you want to go to Kauai, it’s complicated. As we described in a news post, here are the new steps:
- To bypass the mandatory 10-day quarantine period, travelers must
- participate in the state’s Safe Travel’s pre-travel test program prior to their flight to the state of Hawaii
- receive a negative result before their departure flight to Hawaii
- fly to any Hawaiian Island other than Kauai
- stay on that non-Kauai island for a minimum of 72 hours
- take another test no more than 72 hours before an inter-island flight to Kauai as part of Hawaii’s inter-island pre-travel testing program
- receive a negative result before their inter-island flight departure to Kauai. The visitor is then allowed to explore the island of Kauai without quarantine.
- To have an enhanced, then reduced quarantine period, a visitor must
- participate in the state’s Safe Travel’s pre-travel testing program
- receive a negative result before their flight departure to Hawaii
- stay in one of Kauai’s Enhanced Movement Quarantine (EMQ) resort bubble resorts with access to restaurants and the pool
- stay at the EMQ resort bubble for at least three days
- take a post-travel test
- with a with negative test result, the visitor would be released the modified quarantine and allowed outside of the resort.
- For more information about Kauai’s specific rules, check these resources:
What is required under the 10-day quarantine?
Under quarantine, visitors must go directly from the airport to their place of lodging and confine themselves to their individual place of lodging, hotel room during the entire quarantine. (Details of the quarantine are in the section below.) Visitors who have violated quarantine orders have been cited, arrested, jailed and forced to go back home.
Please note that the following order was originally issued in March 2020 based on a 14-day quarantine requirement. In December 17, 2020, the quarantine period was reduced from 14 days to 10 days.
Original Quarantine Order
This quarantine started March 26, 2020 at 12:01am, a 14-day quarantine is required for all incoming arrivals at all Hawaii airports. This emergency proclamation order mandating a quarantine “will be in effect until further notice”, per the governor’s press conference on March 21, 2020. Here’s an excerpt from Hawaii Governor Ige’s press release detailing the quarantine along with a few additions/revisions.
All visitors and residents arriving through Hawaiʻi’s airports will be required to complete a health screening and contact information form. Additionally, they will be required to sign an order for self quarantine. They will retain the form when disembarking the aircraft. Upon arrival, they will go through a checkpoint and present the completed form with a valid identification. Checkpoint staff will validate the form and issue documentation that certifies they cleared the checkpoint. The form also includes information on the mandatory requirements for the 14-day quarantine along with penalties.
The mandatory 14-day self-quarantine orders are:
- Proceed directly from the airport to your designated quarantine location, which is the location identified and affirmed by you on the mandatory State of Hawai‘i Department of Agriculture Plants and Animals Declaration Form.
- Remain in your designated quarantine location for a period of 14 days or the duration of your stay in the State of Hawai‘i, whichever is shorter.
- If you are a resident, your designated quarantine location is your place of residence.
- If you are a visitor, your designated quarantine location is your hotel room or rented lodging.
- You can only leave your designated quarantine location for medical emergencies or to seek medical care.
- Do not visit any public spaces, including but not limited to pools, meeting rooms, fitness centers or restaurants.
- Do not allow visitors in or out of your designated quarantine location other than a physician, healthcare provider, or individual authorized to enter the designated quarantine location by the Director of HIEMA.
- Comply with any and all rules or protocols related to your quarantine as set forth by your hotel or rented lodging.
- If you become ill with a fever or cough:
- Continue to stay in designated quarantine location, avoid contact with others and contact a healthcare provider for further instructions on treatment or testing.
- If you are older or have any medical conditions (e.g., immune compromise, diabetes, asthma), consult your regular healthcare provider.
- If you feel you need medical care, contact healthcare provider and inform them of your travel history.
- If you need urgent medical care (e.g., have difficulty breathing), call 9-1-1 and let the dispatcher know your travel history).
Failure to follow this order is a misdemeanor and punishable by a maximum fine of $5,000, or imprisonment of not more than one year, or both. Enforcement will be handled by each of Hawaii’s four counties.
The traveler is fully responsible for the cost of the quarantine.
A visitor must quarantine in a hotel or motel.
Individuals who are on the quarantine list are not allowed to rent a car.
For further information regarding restrictions and declarations, see the alerts page at the Hawaii Tourism Authority.
If you have any questions regarding this quarantine order, email local government at: CovidExemption@hawaii.gov.
For general travel-related questions, please contact the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau Call Center at 1-800-GO-HAWAII (1-800-464-2924).
If you are thinking you could break quarantine, we absolutely do not advise doing that! Hundreds of quarantine violators have been caught, arrested, jailed, fined and even sent back home. Their mug shots have been published on televised and printed news sites. Just don’t do it!
What’s opening in Hawaii?
With the state due to reopen tourism on October 15 with visitors providing negative COVID-19 test results, hotels, tours and restaurants are starting to make their plans to reopen. Some may open on October 15 or shortly after. Others are saying they plan to open in November.
We published an article on October 12th, providing a sampling of Hawaii attractions and hotels and their opening plans.
With Oahu have the vast majority of cases, they’re taking a more cautious approach to opening with a complex tiered system. What’s open depends on their recent case load. You can read about that plan here.
Many restaurants were either closed or offering take-out services only through May. In June, some Hawaii restaurants are returning to limited dine-in services with reduced capacity and social distancing.
Some popular Hawaii restaurants have not survived the economic fallout from the pandemic. They have announced permanent closures.
Hawaii Events & Attractions
Numerous parks, tours and attractions are either closed or just partially open. We would expect that when tourism reopens, more sites will begin to open, though with restrictions of social distancing and wearing masks. It’s really difficult to predict when or even what will or won’t be open.
Festivals and special events such as concerts and sporting events are cancelled through the summer. It’s quite possible that there will be further closures until large gatherings are allowed.
Most Hawaii hotels have been closed but are planning to reopen when tourism reopens. Some will be open in October, while others are saying they’re waiting until November or December to reopen.
Grocery stores are open. Some reports indicate empty shelves due to panic buying. The shipment of replenishment supplies continues as normal.
What’s the sentiment towards visitors to Hawaii?
As always, we only give the same advice on this site that we would give to our friends and family. Unfortunately, the sentiment towards visitors is not a good one right now. Hawaii is usually a very hospitable destination that’s known for aloha, but these are unusual times.
Before the quarantine was enacted, there were several reports of protests against visitors on multiple islands. In March, it was reported that the Hawaii Department of Health was concerned of a growing stigma against visitors. A lot of the cases of COVID have been erroneously blamed on visitors despite the fact that the vast majority of the cases were brought in by residents who returned to Hawaii after traveling outside of the state.
In July, the University of Hawaii released the results of a survey of Hawaii resident’s opinions towards the pandemic and also tourists. Some 81% said that they don’t want “tourists come to visit my community right now.”
This opinion piece from the state’s largest newspaper is a sad summation of the negative sentiment that’s been growing in Hawaii. Quarantine breakers have not helped the situation.
Just read any comment thread on any Hawaii news story related to reopening tourism and you will see that the vast majority of commenters don’t want any tourists coming to Hawaii for months to come.
So, if you have a trip planned, go with a hopeful attitude as the Aloha spirit is not dead. Just don’t be surprised if you don’t feel very welcomed outside of the confines of a resort.
Tips & Tricks for Staying Healthy During the Coronavirus Crisis
Here are some tips for avoiding catching a cold or virus while traveling.
– Wear a mask.
– Maintain social distancing.
– Avoid touching your face.
– Avoid being around people who appear to be sick.
– Bring hand sanitizer and/or antibacterial wipes that are safe for cleaning your hands. Sanitize your hands after touching public surfaces like handrails on stairs and escalators, elevator buttons, arm rests on chairs, door handles, etc. (Note that Lysol and Clorox-type wipes are too harsh for regular hand cleaning.)
– Use antibacterial wipes – for example Lysol and Clorox wipes — to clean surfaces you touch at your airplane seat. In addition to the obvious, tray tables and arm rests, also wipe the area you would use to open the seat pocket in front of you. (If possible, avoid using the seat pocket at all because studies have shown that they are very germ-laden.) Wipe the air vent, too. In addition to the touch points around your seat, consider using an antibacterial wipe to clean touch points in the lavatory.
– Some experts recommend turning the air vent at your seat on high to help move the air in front of you.
– Use antibacterial wipes on surfaces you’ll touch in a hotel room – such as light switches, faucets, lamp switches, remote controls, telephone, door handles, etc.
– Stay hydrated as it helps your immune system.
– Avoid buffets.
– Consider using a supplement that claims to boost your immune system. How much it helps, we don’t know, but if your doctor approves, it may be a good idea. Experts recommend getting your vitamins and minerals from your food, but when you travel you are not always in control of well-balanced, immune-boosting meals. Personally we’ve had good experience using Airborne chewables when we travel.
– Bring a thermometer with you. The Coronavirus COVID-19 is known to cause a fever.
– Pack a baggie of medicine, just in case you feel unwell.
– Bring a longer supply of prescription medications just in case your trip gets unexpectedly extended or you are put in quarantine.
– Consult the CDC’s travel advice.
– When in Hawaii, call 2-1-1 for general questions about COVID-19.
We are frequently updating this page with new Hawaii and travel-related Coronavirus information as it becomes available. We recommend bookmarking this page. We may also be writing new articles regarding this evolving situation. Subscribe to our free email updates to be alerted to those articles as well as our ongoing Hawaii travel advice.
A word of caution as you read the comments below:
This situation has changed rapidly. Policies that may have been weeks, days or even hours ago, may no longer be valid. If you read the comments, be sure and note the date.
We are updating this article multiple times per day. It’s better to read this article rather than the comments to know the latest and most up to date information.
Subscribe to our free email updates to be alerted to that information as well as our ongoing Hawaii travel advice.
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