Hawaii mayors urge negative pre-travel tested visitors undergo 72hr quarantine pending second test

10/6/2020 Update: This post-travel testing requirement was denied by the governor. blank

The journey to reopen Hawaii tourism to trans-Pacific travelers has been a long one already. Now, we’re less than two weeks away from the start of the much-anticipated pre-travel testing plan and yet another roadblock is being proposed.

Are you sitting down?

The mayors of Kauai and Maui counties are pushing the following additions above and beyond the pre-travel testing for their counties:

  1. Arriving visitors with proof of a negative pre-travel test go directly into quarantine for 72 hours. The place of quarantine would either be restricted to a hotel room or at a geo-fenced resort bubble.
  2. No sooner than 72 hours after arrival, visitors may take a second test. The second test is proposed to be a rapid test.
  3. If the second test is negative, the visitor is released from quarantine.

This concept is being called “two-step testing” and “sandwich testing.”

The mayors of Kauai and Maui counties are the only ones that we’ve specifically heard saying they want this two-step testing plan. It’s possible that the mayors of Hawaii (Big) Island and Oahu share a similar sentiment, but we’ve not heard them say that. In a Maui News article, Maui Mayor Victorino says, “Many of us mayors would prefer a second test, especially for trans-Pacific arrivals.” If you’d like to hear Kauai and Maui mayors explain more about this sandwich-style testing, you can watch these video briefings:

  • Kauai
  • Maui (Fast forward to about 19 minutes into the video for the sandwich testing part of the discussion.)

Each island is setting up its own restrictions and regulations regarding inter-island and trans-Pacific travelers. It’s all becoming a tangled mess, quite frankly. It’s going to be extremely difficult for travelers to figure out the different rules for the different islands in order to comply with them.

From the outside, it appears that there are power struggles going on between county and state-level leaders. It’s not a good look. When the original announcement was made to open tourism with a pre-travel testing program, everyone was gung-ho and supportive of the plan. Here’s a KHON segment titled County mayors agree pre-travel testing play key to resuming tourism.

So, here we are twelve days away from the start of the pre-travel testing program and once again uncertainty surrounds the plans.

Would you be willing to travel to Hawaii in the newly proposed circumstances?

52 comments
  1. seems like there is a double standard being invoked. If the mayors want tourists to take a second test 3 days later, while confined to specific hotels, wouldn’t they also have to apply the same rule to returning residents? That is, staying in a covid hotel or resort bubble?

    It seems that there is more risk of a returning resident, potentially infected, sharing a living space and spreading an infection to others within their household not under a quarantine rule. I’m no lawyer, but it seems there might a legal argument involved towards this.

    1. I

      This is unbelievable! We scheduled our Oct 15 trip back in May. This is to celebrate my husbands birthday.
      Hawaiian Airlines already cancelled on us and we had to scramble last week for another flight. Our condo is not refundable as long as Maui is “open”
      We stand to lose over $4,000.00. I haven’t been able to confirm a testing site in Arizona that will give us rapid testing while we are healthy and show no signs of Covid19. ache authorities in Hawaii think is a simple process. it is not!
      I’ve been watching all the updates and press conferences everyday. Now there’s going to be more hoops to jump through? This is unreal, its not like were traveling from down the street. This takes a lot of money and careful planning even without Covid. please reconsider what your asking for! Why not give us a rapid test when we arrive. Not spending vacation on lockdown, the condo were staying at does not have food on site.

  2. I’m more than willing to get the vaccine…and proof of a negative test to fly… quarantine for 72 hours is no way to start an expensive vacation.. I’m booked first week of February…for 7 nites….. coming from jersey…3 nites quarantined is almost half…that’s a deal breaker…

    1. Nearly half of a vacation spent confined to a resort is asking a lot, especially considering how far you’re traveling.

      1. IMHO those Mayors do not want tourists back. Why? I don’t know.
        Do common people (working for hotels,restaurants, shows,tours and other tourism oriented businesses)agree with their Mayors??
        I highly doubt.
        In Italy, where we live,everyone is doing efforts to go back to normal life; of course safety measures come first …but tourists related businesses are MORE THAN HAPPY to welcome back travellers, while keeping up with antiCovid procedures.
        So sad for all those workers…without work!!

        1. Yes, it’s very sad for workers and businesses. It cannot go on like this indefinitely.

          It’s good to hear that things are moving towards normal in Italy.

  3. Who is going to pay for my value lost because of prepaid hotels and car rentals that I can’t use for 3 days. All that is left of my vacation is 4 days. The $250 per person cost of my COVID 19 Test at SFO now becomes pointless. Under these NEW proposed conditions I will ONCE AGAIN have to cancel my trip until Maui gets their act together. Mike Victorino, you have lost your mind. THIS IS RIDICULOUS.

  4. I was staying for 5days in Maui. I don’t want to spend 3 of them in quarantine. I will be going to Palm Springs instead.

  5. Agree with the other comments. Difficult to imagine people coming for a week-long trip if about half is spent in lockdown. Shouldn’t the mayors’ input have been incorporated into the plan already? Seems to be very late in the process to raise this issue. Nobody can plan around uncertainty.

    1. Hmm, well, this sucks! I hope they don’t do it. I have been looking forward to this trip for years (as I’m sure many have). I have been very careful concerning COVID as it would likely be an early end should I catch it. I was thrilled to hear about their “test no more than 72 hours” plan because it made me feel safer. I would cancel my trip if they change it because I wouldn’t trust that the beginning of November things wouldn’t change again. Unlike most, I have a couple rare diseases that won’t afford me many more travel days in this lifetime. I love to travel, see new places, learn their history. It’s difficult enough dealing my day to day pain and fear of how much longer before these (hereditary, not catchable LOL) diseases take me….. without worrying on if I will need to spend half of the cherished days in a hotel room….. too few days available to waste sitting in a room unnecessarily. Maybe it’s time to revisit Seville, Spain and take a train through Switzerland and into northern Italy, then to Germany before returning home. I’ve done that trip already and it was quaint, charming, and simply amazing…..stunning views, although not the beautiful tropics I imagine Maui and Kauai to be. (Sigh), I hope they get it figured out right away so those of us scheduled to travel can ultimately decide what we are going to do. Stay safe, blessings.

  6. Are they crazy? I think they should have their heads examined.
    Do they think our family of five wants to be locked up for half of our vacation? I will cancel again if this their way of treating us!

    1. Sadly, the mayors seem to talk about us visitors as if we’re not even humans who are undeserving of “their” islands.

  7. It is clear to me that Kauai does not want visitors. I will honor that request and travel elsewhere. I was scheduled to be there oct 17 thru 28 but will not sit inside our condo for 3 days awaiting another test. Truly a shame all could not get on the same page before announcing the reopening on oct 15th.

    1. Brian K. Unless the quarantine rules are changed you cannot quarantine in a condo in the State of Hawaii ,you will have to go to a hotel, or motel to quarantine. (I don’t know how you find an approved facility once you are there).. So, if that’s still the case you may lose the money that you spent on your condo for the 3 day, plus the car rental for those days.(You can’t pick up a car rental if you are quarantined in Hawaii)
      I’m in NY and I found that a number of testing locations advise that, at times, results may be delayed. I don’t know if that would happen there, or if the Hawaii agreement will prevent delays from happening. I don’t trust it. What if there is a spike in covid and they need the tests for medical, not traveler reasons. I won’t chance any possibility of quarantine.
      The Oahu Mayor, had said that he couldn’t do the 2nd test due to volume, but don’t know if that has changed. I am waiting to read about the Big Island.

        1. DfromAz. Thanks for explaining time shares. I don’t know anything about them.
          I visit Hawaii twice a year . I used to stay in Hotels, but now, book a condo .
          I learn a lot from this site, and have been recommending it to people that I speak to that have an interest in traveling to Hawaii.

      1. We are also interesting to get clarity on the Big Island’s regulations. This week, they signed a new emergency rule that says all persons coming to the county are subject to a 14-day quarantine. It’s not clear if the pre-travel testing program overrides that requirement.

    2. When they originally announced the pre-travel testing program, they all seemed on the same page. Now, it appears to be a mess.

  8. Been annually to Kauai for 36 years. Staying 53 days this year so we decided to do the 14 day quarantine and arrived Oct 1. The day before departure, AA cancelled the direct flight LAX-LIH so we had to fly through HNL claiming and rechecking bags. It took 90+ minutes to get through the entry screening and having the QR code in advance didn’t save us any wait time in line. Arriving in LIH took another 75+ minutes and they aren’t on the QR system so you had to hand fill out a form while standing in line. Brought enough food supplies to hopefully last the 14 days. Resort is mostly empty except for some local quests on week-end. Just sitting on the lanai watching the waves. Can’t leave the room. My recommendation: unless you have at least 30+ days here, wait until late spring 2021 when you will hopefully be able to get a vaccine. It just isn’t the same experience as in the past.

    1. Thanks for sharing your experience. We hope your quarantine goes by quickly. Glad you have an ocean view lanai. That makes a difference!

  9. I guess Hawaii really doesn’t want our tourism dollars. We are supposed to come to Hawaii in April, but if they keep this garbage up, we’ll be canceling our trip for the second time! This is getting rediculous!!

  10. We are scheduled to arrive on the 19th for 3 weeks. We planned to take the COVID test locally at Walgreens. This is way too late in the game for the mayor’s to up the ante! We will cancel our Long planned vacation! We own on Oahu go there every year decided on Kauai this year! Our favorite island. I guess this decision is up to the Governor. Hope he doesn’t let them sway his decision made earlier for Hawaii. It is too late for travelers to make changes at this point. We will follow the cdc guidelines! Wear a mask, practice social distancing, avoid crowds, wash hands! Come on people this COVID panic is ridiculous!

  11. No! We have cancelled our anniversary trip to Maui once already! I just got everything (hotel, flights, rental car) reserved again for Oct 23 – 31 !! We will not come to Maui for a week, to sit in our room for 3 days of it! This is very late in thhe process to add additional
    conditions to the pre-testing travel program!

    1. I’ve cancelled my September trip once already at great expense to me. The next time I cancel it will be for good. You need to fix this in November. Find a governor that’s not interested in ruining your economy…..what’s left of it.

  12. Hawaii is quickly removing itself as a destination. We’re scheduled for four weeks on the Big Island, arriving in early December and staying at a number of our time shares. If these are the new rules, you can kiss my vacation dollars goodbye. This is absolute nonsense and mismanagement! Is no one in charge over there?

  13. I am mad now this is my 4th time cancelling to visit our new timeshare that we spent money for all year long and cannot use. If we are testing negative there is no way we are spending money to sit in the room for 1/2 our vacation for another Nefative test.

    This is last time I’m cancelling and the Mayor of Maui can keep Hawaii to himself. This repeated bad last minute decisions is not in anybody’s benefit. If mayor of Maui wants a 2nd test he should just provide the 15 minute rapid testing at the airport like Dubai. Get your act together!

  14. Sad, this seems like last minute power grab? I can understand the other County mayors having concerns, but my understanding is the current protocols were developed by Lt. Governor who is a doctor! He estimated the possibility of a passenger testing negative who is yet positive is 1 in a 1000, so quite low and with preventive measures in place such as masks, social distancing, spread should be highly reduced.

    Cruising in the US is considering 2 step testing, with the second test at the embarkation port, but protocols not finalized.

    I would be willing to ‘retest’ at County’s expense after 3-4 days without being quarantine as I have been following safety protocols. Guess pre travel testing to avoid interisland quarantine has not been finalized/approved for tourist or residents, which I thought was being considered.

    1. You are correct that the lt. gov. had lead the creation of the plans with input from other entities.

      Pre-travel testing has been approved and written into documentation, but a requirement for a second test is not included in the same state-level documentation. It’s the proposed added steps of a second test that’s in contention right now.

  15. Well, I wonder how close to the deadline ‘precipice’ they will wait this time? Currently 11 days away and understand there has been a large press conference (previous to all this 2nd test discussion) set for Oct 8th. I keep close watch on the available seats on my flights. In the previous week I saw more seats getting taken, in the past few days I am now seeing a reversal of that and maybe folks are fed up with the decision paralysis and bailing.

    Just spitballing here, but since the governor has already approved a ‘hotel bubble’ just for Kauai and Kauai announced recently they have pre-purchased 15,000 test kits, if they may be the only island that gets a gov approval on this? They are smaller scale and have less facilities. Then the question is what do the other islands do? Move forward or remain paralyzed? Maui is in the worse shape economically I believe and needs to do something.

    Then again, maybe all this is political cover to be able to have an “I told you so” card in their pocket.

  16. We have been waiting since March to visit, now you want to quarantine us longer with our very expensive vacation being opposed on again. Do you not trust USA Medical experts to be correct in our testing? This is ridiculous and it just may look like our expensive vacation on your island will be cancelled by us. Only to lose money again as we did in March. So sorry Hawaii, you are worse than our own Democratic Governors and it appears you that you clearly really do not want visitors. We were planning to visit in November for Thanksgiving.

  17. So how does this round up work? Do they pack the travelers in a bus to ship them to this quarantine hotel for 72 h? What about travelers that have vehicles and vacation homes on Maui? I generally drive myself home with one of my vehicles dropped off in the airport parking by the storage company. Can people drive themselves to this 72 h holding point? Can they stay at their home for the 72h holding? Less chance of being infected at home than in a plague hotel of theirs.

  18. I just listened to a video, online, from earlier today(Oct. 5th) with Gov. Ige discussing travel to Hawaii.
    It’s on today’s “Star Advertiser”..
    Title…” Gov. David Ige joins Honolulu Star Advertiser’s spotlight Hawaii.”..
    He answers some questions about the testing, inter Island travel, etc.

    1. I caught just a few minutes of that chat before I had to go out to run some errands. I’m going to watch the whole video. What I did briefly catch sounded encouraging.

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