Hawaii’s Big Island opts out of pre-travel testing + more Hawaii tourism reopening news

UPDATE: Big Island is not opting out. The Big Island is participating in the pre-travel testing program with the addition of a second test upon arrival at a Big Island airport. Check our Go Visit Hawaii homepage for any further news.

We’re just nine days from the October 15th start of the pre-travel testing program, yet, there’s still quite a bit of chaos around it. Yesterday, some new answers emerged, but new questions developed, too.

Hawaii’s Big Island opts out of pre-travel testing program

Governor Ige has given each island county the option to opt out of the pre-travel testing program per the Star Advertiser. The mayor of the Big Island has decided to not participate in the pre-travel testing program. Anyone coming to the Big Island is subject to a 14-day quarantine.

The Big Island has recently experienced a surge in cases. They had a new record high case count on Saturday of 43 new cases.

Per the Star Advertiser, the mayor of Hawaii (Big) Island is quoted as saying, “All of us want to open up our economy, (but) … I made a decision that the risk factor in regards to doing this at this time is not an acceptable risk as far as endangering Hawaii’s people.”

At the moment, it doesn’t appear that the other islands/counties plan to opt-out.

Proposed two-step/sandwich/post-arrival testing denied by the governor

On Saturday, we told you about the proposed two-step testing plan from the mayors of Maui and Kauai. Those plans have been denied by the governor per yesterday’s Kauai update and Maui update. But, is something else in the works? Watch this Maui update from the 25-minute mark onward. Maui’s mayor mentions “other means” to verify safety are being considered. He says that he expects an announcement on Wednesday.

What’s going to happen with the inter-island quarantines?

Presently there are some mandatory 14-day, inter-island quarantines. As we understand it, there’s a quarantine for anyone who resides on or visits Oahu and travels to the other Hawaiian Islands. If you are traveling from any of the other islands to Oahu, you are not required to quarantine on Oahu.

For clarity, when the new pre-travel testing program begins and you are traveling to either Maui, Kauai, Lanai or Molokai with a negative pre-travel test and you are simply making a flight connection within HNL airport you are not required to quarantine.

Additionally, as we understand it, there’s also a 14-day quarantine for “all persons traveling to Hawaii Island” per a new emergency rule signed last week.

From what we’ve read, there’s going to be some upcoming news about the inter-island quarantines. Hopefully it will be simplified because right now it’s a bit confusing.

These quarantines are definitely something to be aware of if you are planning to visit more than one island. If the inter-island quarantines continue as is and you’re planning a multi-island trip, visit Oahu last.

For further questions, check http://hawaiicovid19.com/travel for a list of frequently asked questions and their answers.

  1. Well, Ige’s denial of the second test is a move in the correct opening direction. Kauai pretty much came out and said they will not opt-out of the 14 day quarantine. It will be interesting as to what is happening/being planned behind the scenes for Maui. Victorino did say safety needs to be tightened up further and that Ige was open to discuss alternative plans.

    Personally, I think the big hole that exists in the process is with returning residents. For example, if a resident is coming back from the mainland, gets the pre-travel test (to skip quarantine) and finds out they are positive…do you think they will stay on the mainland for 2 weeks to get negative? No, they will probably not disclose the positive test and fly back home (infected) to declare a 14 day quarantine stay at home. Of which they may/may not abide by. A tourist would most likely not travel sick with that unknown.

    1. Good points.

      We’re bracing ourselves for what comes next. At this point, we’re expecting the unexpected. 😀

  2. It would quite interesting to know how many of those recent cases are from local, familial interactions since a 14 quarantine has been in place for quite a while now so not sure how many, with contact tracing, are travel related. It seems a shame to penalize the hospitality trade further. There is now a form tied to your flight that allows tracing and a followup test on island would certainly tighten up things if there are travel related cases.

  3. I don’t know really how I feel. 🙂 Covid is still here, still hurting, still killing folks. There are those that never believed or don’t believe it’s real and didn’t comply. There are those who did believe and are complying still, then there are those that believe it’s real but folks are tired, they wanta travel, they don’t wanna wear mask anymore, just tired, so they’ve let their guard down. Just like other places, we need businesses open for them to ever survive. Hawaii needs tourism to survive but at what cost. People need to work, to thrive, to live, so tourism needs to be open. Flip side, Mayors want to protect their people, or they should, so if you open and covid gets worse? Whether it be from locals getting out more and spreading it or visitors bringing it and spreading it, more folks could possibly die. I mean there is really not a good answer for anything, as in, what should we do???? It’s gotta be tough on businesses, not knowing the future, the locals not knowing and on the officials trying their best to figure it out and pray they’re doing the right thing. I’m just praying things turn around soon. Whatever happens, I hope the outcome is great. Sorry for my ramblings.

    1. I agree., good points…
      Answers are tough.. I know 3 people who died and others who have gotten sick with covid19..Some of the sick ones are under 50 and even a few under 30 who were in good shape. Some suffered terribly, others not so much. One of the younger ones has been sick for months. So from the health perspective I understand the mayors’ concerns.
      Economically, however, quarantining for 14 days is unacceptable to most potential visitors so they won’t visit any Island that enforces that quarantine and many residents will suffer financially, especially after their unemployment benefits run out.
      The 2nd test has been overruled, but it’s still being discussed by some. As the Lt. Gov. stated, and I have read in previous topics on this site .. If a 2nd test is required after 3 days of quarantine tourists won’t go to Hawaii.. (Question: ..Why would you take the test on the mainland if you have to be quarantined after you arrive to get another test, and await results..)
      The Big Island is my Island of choice and the one I have visited the most . My wife and I have been to that Island 12 times and have met, and befriended many wonderful people and are in touch frequently. However,I will never travel there again if there is any quarantine, or a test after I arrive. I will miss my friends and extended ohana and the beauty of the Island, but won’t subject myself to those conditions, and loss of money….
      I could go on, but I have rambled enough(for now)

      1. Sorry you won’t get to go to Hawaii Island and visit your friends until these quarantines are over.

        1. Thank you.
          This info was priceless for me because these days we stay in a condo, which is currently and probably will continue to be unacceptable for quarantine .
          The Mayor of Hawaii Island is going to have a bit of planning to do to make his extra testing work efficiently and still attract visitors.
          If quarantining in a room for 14 days continues until his later plan of requiring 2 extra tests, which also requires quarantining in a room, is enacted then I guess business conferences and destination weddings on the Big Island could become a thing of the past. It also will be less attractive to MANY tourists.
          For myself ,I love to travel to Hawaii a couple of times a year, and am not happy that I won’t return for a while,but it’s not “essential” travel. I feel for the workers in the hospitality, and related fields who will remain unemployed due to less visitors. I hope that the Mayor rethinks his plan and realizes how many of his residents may be adversely affected.

  4. So we have a trip currently set to fly into Maui 11/5 and then to Kauai 11/10 and back home 11/16. At this point, do you know what restrictions there are? The plan is for use to have the testing done prior to leaving so we don’t have to do the 14 day quarantine. So frustrating for so many reasons….I need to change plans ASAP to elsewhere if needed because days off work (or other things) can’t change.

    1. All we know is what we’ve shared so far. See the link to the pre-travel testing program that we’ve linked to in the article. Also, see the website: hawaiicovid19.com/travel for a list of Q&As.

  5. We have sold our Condo in Hawaii. We close Oct 10th. We have made tickets to fly over to the Big Island on the October 15Th. We have a car to ship as well as furniture and clothing. The buyers have it being used on November 1. What do we do??????

  6. I think they see a future in sugar cane and pineapples. No Hawaii for me this year, until the virus is under control. Hope they’ll welcome tourist back someday!

  7. I just read that Mayor Kim’s test proposal is to test at the airport upon arrival, then quarantine until you get results, which SHOULD be in one day. Then another test would be needed, but you ,reportedly, don’t have to be under quarantine for waiting for the result for the last test.
    I have followed some testing location procedures on the mainland and found that many give a time frame for receiving results and those results”may be” delayed, which may add days to a quarantine on the Big Island….. To receive the third test, the tourist reportedly, must go to a facility where tests are given.
    I’ve been to Kona Airport a number of times when a few flights arrive around the same time. It can get pretty busy. It’s a reasonably small open air facility, it’s not like Oahu, Maui, or Kauai airports…I can’t say for sure, but I can see chaos, by long waiting times at the airport by adding new procedures. With the potential of over 1,000 passenger arriving per day how are they going to efficiently administer those tests.
    After months of discussion and planning and releasing “the Plan” they still couldn’t get it together, and proposed changes AFTER releasing the plan. I , personally, don’t trust them enacting these proposals efficiently(my opinion)
    They are apparently working out all of the details, so I’ll try to monitor it to see if anything is acceptable for me. A test requirement after I arrive is a deal breaker for me.
    My opinion: I would check my travel insurance to be sure that you are covered if you test positive before departure, or after arrival. My insurance will only cover me only if a medical professional(doctor) diagnosis me with an illness that interrupts my travel.The positive test alone is NOT enough for coverage. (I checked it out before I made tentative plans for 2021, but that was before the new test proposals). IF I was going to travel, I would have to specifically get more details . Some don’t cover pandemics at all..There are many plans, and it might be worth researching a few to pick the right one… I hope that the Mayor changes his mind after realizing the negative effects that this can have on the Island’s economy. Maybe it’ll all work out in the next few weeks and I won’t have to cancel my next trip.
    I canceled my trip in May 2020 and received full refunds including airlines. I the canceled an October 2020 and spring 2021 and received full refunds on my deposits at a condo. I made reservations at a condo again for 2021, but have 6 more moths to cancel and get a refund if I change my mind. I did not make airline, or rental car reservations for that trip and would not do that until the time drew closer and I knew, within reason, that I was going to travel. Our 50th anniversary is in 2021 and we really wanted to celebrate it on the Big Island with our close friends, so I hope that things change.

    1. You’re right about how the logistics of testing at the Kona airport would be a challenge. There’s really not much of a linear area for 100s of people to queue at the same time for testing.

      Also, yes, how is that the leaders have had months to prep this plan and now new goal posts are being proposed? Why weren’t the newly proposed rules raised months ago? The concept of the pre-testing plan has been known since June.

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