The latest Hawaii COVID-19 travel news and restrictions – October 14, 2020

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With the October 15th launch of the new pre-travel testing program just hours away from implementation, it seems that there’s new news coming out of Hawaii every hour. If your head is spinning, trying to keep up with the last minute changes and restrictions, welcome to the club! Our head is spinning, too! Just trying to make heads or tails out of the numerous proclamations, emergency rules, press releases and press conferences is absolutely exhausting. I feel like the guy in the red shirt in this Far Side cartoon.

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So, let’s try to break down the news into some bite size pieces that are as easy as we can possibly make them to understand and digest.

Overview of Governor Ige’s October 13, 2020 Press Conference

Once again, the governor and lieutenant governor and other state leaders expressed confidence in the October 15th start of the pre-travel testing program. The governor stated, “We’re looking forward to launching pre-travel testing on Thursday, because it’s a reflection of the progress we’ve made in managing the pandemic to the point where we can begin taking greater steps to reviving our economy and strengthening our community.”

You can watch the entire press conference here. The governor and lieutenant governor provided a brief overview the basics of the pre-travel testing program. We’re summarizing their overview plus adding a few pieces of information that we believe is helpful to include:

  • Beginning October 15, travelers who do not want to be subject to the state’s 14-day mandatory travelers quarantine must take an approved COVID-19 test within 72 hours prior to departure from the final leg of travel. (Children under the age of five will not be required to take a test.) This pre-travel testing option is only open to travelers from the U.S. at the start.
  • The test must be done through one of the 17 trusted testing partners (listed here).
  • Negative test results may be uploaded on the Safe Travels Digital Platform, and all travelers must also complete the state’s mandatory travel and health form on this digital platform. (Travelers are encouraged to do this step 24 hours prior to arrival in Hawaii. Airport screeners will review information upon arrival and conduct temperature screenings.)
  • If a traveler’s COVID-19 test comes back negative, they will be exempt from quarantine. If the results haven’t come in yet, the traveler will be required to quarantine at their place of lodging until results come back. If the result comes back positive for COVID-19, the traveler and close contacts will be mandated to isolation for 14 days.
  • If a traveler does not pre-test, they will be required to quarantine for 14-days. There are no options to test out of state quarantine after arrival.
  • For more information of the pre-travel testing program and requirements, see HawaiiCOVID19.com/travel.
  • For more information on the Safe Travels Digital Platform, see this link.

The governor announced four newly approved testing partners, which include American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, Port of Oakland and Bartell Drugs. There are now 17  testing partners in total. Once again, you can see the complete list of approved testing partners listed here.

At the time of publishing, all islands are participating in Hawaii’s pre-travel testing program for visitors to the state. In the last week or so, there had previously been various discussions, rumors and last-minute hesitations for the implementation of the pre-travel testing program. All islands are opting in. There are some case level caveats that we’ll mentioned in the tier section below.

Post-arrival, second testing requirements vary by county

A second test may be either voluntary or required per individual county requirements. Here’s the list of second test requirements by island:

Kauai – requesting travelers take a second test 72 hours after arrival. It is voluntary. A quarantine is not required between arrival and the second test. Read this update for currently available information regarding the second test. The cost of the second test is at the visitor’s expense. See this link for more details.

Maui County – requesting travelers to take a second test between 48 and 72 hours after arrival. It is voluntary and will be paid by the county. A quarantine is not required between arrival and the second test. Note that the county of Maui includes the islands of Lanai, Molokai and, of course, Maui. More information is available here.

Hawaii (Big Island) County – a second test will be performed upon arrival. The cost of the test will be paid by the county. For more insights on this testing, see this article.

Additionally, a statewide surveillance testing program will be implemented. Approximately 10% of incoming travelers will be tested four days after arrival. The cost of surveillance testing will be paid by the state. This surveillance testing will take place for 60 days.

Option to pre-test to be exempt from 14-day quarantine for inter-island travel to Kauai and Maui

The governor approved Kauai’s and Maui’s requests to allow quarantine exemptions for inter-island travel if inter-island travelers obtain a valid 72-hour pre-test with a negative result. For more details on that news, see this link to Maui News and this link to this County of Kauai Facebook update. Without a valid, negative pre-test, inter-island travelers may be subject to a mandatory 14-day quarantine.

At the time of publishing, a quarantine is not required for inter-island travel to Oahu from any other Hawaiian Island.

At the time of publishing, a 14-quarantine is required for all inter-island travel to the island of Hawaii, also known as the Big Island. See this link for more information.

Note that if you are flying from a U.S. state to Hawaii with a valid, negative pre-test and  you are simply making a flight connection without exiting the connecting airport, that does not trigger an inter-island quarantine. Per HawaiiCOVID19.com/travel, they put it this way, “If you have just a layover in Honolulu then the negative test result is good through to your final destination. If your break in Honolulu is more than a layover, then you are captured by the interisland quarantine.”

Some islands may opt out of the state’s pre-travel testing program if case counts increase

Kauai has received approval from the governor to implement a tier system that allows or disallows quarantine exemption with a pre-travel testing program based on their positive COVID-19 case counts. You can read that new rule here. To monitor Kauai’s case counts, check their COVID-19 webpage.

Maui has proposed a similar tier system. An overview of this system was presented in the county’s daily update on Monday.  It’s not clear whether the governor has approved Maui’s proposed system or not. Check the webpage for Maui county for any updates.

Those are all the known, opt-out, tier systems at this time.

Rules vary by island/county

The counties of Hawaii are changing rules and regulations frequently in response to COVID-19. Keeping up with the changes can be difficult and confusing. (See this Star-Advertiser article, Island-by island COVID-19 requirements and rules could confuse some visitors.) The onus is put on the travelers to find, understand and follow the rules. It’s not easy to find either as most of their rules are tucked away in multiple proclamation and emergency rule documents. Here are the county websites to check for their rules:

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

***** Helpful Hawaii Travel Information Resources *****

We’re list these following official resources to assist you with any questions you may have. Please use these official resources as they will offer many answers to travelers’ questions:

12 comments
  1. What do you do if you don’t have access to any of the testing sites listed? Can you use your local hospital/clinic lab testing site?

      1. Vault health is telemedicine so all you need is a US address, Zoom on a phone tablet of computer to contact them so they can see you collect your sample, and a UPS drop off location. It’s a saliva test and costs $150. It’s in the list supplied by the link.

        It would be nice to hear about changes to the neighbor island status (open or closed by pre testing negative) based on their Covid stats by this site. I agree that this gating complicates traveler decisions, and the transparency of their government sites is very poor.

        1. We have worked tirelessly to try to keep up to date on this ever-changing new landscape and share with our readers. It’s largely been a very thankless job. In fact, we’ve been attacked by many who either want Hawaii closed or want Hawaii open. We do not make policy. We have no input whatsoever. We do not work for the state of Hawaii. We are simply any independent website.

          Our already meager earnings have dropped 90% because of COVID-19 — all while we’ve had to work harder, been attacked and very rarely appreciated. So, you’ll have to forgive us if we don’t report every nuance and neighbor island status. The complexity of each island’s situation had grown by the day. We simply can’t justify spending any more time than we already have. As we’ve already done, we’ve shown people where to get the information.

          1. Why would anyone criticize you, or this site ??????
            Any criticism is baseless…
            You offer great information and insight into what’s happening. I am certain that you have helped many travelers .
            You are appreciated, and respected !!!

          2. Lopaka – you are extremely kind!

            The attacks have not been much in the way of personal attacks but more of being a punching bag. Some directed their anger at me that Hawaii is closed and plans got ruined. On the other end of the spectrum, some people in Hawaii have a strong dislike of visitors and want Hawaii to stay closed. They also directed their anger towards me. I try my best not to take it personally, but it takes its toll.

  2. haha perfect cartoon…
    I wish the governor would step in and make one rule for all and make them stick to it.
    Lt. Governor Green is a medical doctor, he was confident in pretravel testing when he proposed it, so I’d like to know why they allowed the Mayors to add layers.
    The possibilities of closing Islands through mandating quarantine at any time due to virus counts may work well for public health, but not for planning expensive vacations. I have no training in virology so I can’t judge what path they should take to save their economy and keep everyone safe, but hoped that their experts could have figured that out before they announced the reopening..

    1. Hehe…I’m glad you got a laugh out of the cartoon.

      When the governor tasked Green to head up the pre-travel testing program, I too thought it was the perfect combination of the medical knowledge needed along with the an understanding of the economy. Lt. Gov. Green said he chaired the creation of the plan with input from other stakeholders and experts, so it’s not like it was something developed in isolation. Also, the “bones” of the plan has been known since June. It wasn’t like it was any kind of surprise to the mayors when the details were officially released recently. Everything is so complicated now!

      I can’t say one way or the other if the thresholds in the tier system are appropriate or not. An cluster in a care home could easily trigger the stoppage of the pre-travel testing quarantine exemption. My uneducated thought is that maybe the thresholds should be tied closer to the number of hospital beds occupied…or whatever is a stress on their healthcare systems.

  3. Just wanted to say A BIG Italian GRAZIE, mahalo or thankyou for all the info you share from this website!!! It’s a very hard work you have been doing, always caring about Hawaii and about visitors.
    So sorry that someone could criticize your informative and PROFESSIONAL site 🙁
    I know that our opinion doesn’t make any difference …but here are our appreciation and special hugs from Italy, Laura and Marco

    …hoping to get back to “our” beloved Hawaii … sometime in the future…

    1. Thank you so much Laura and Marco.

      I was so exhausted yesterday. I may not have looked like it, but I spent about six hours writing this article. It was a combination of watching multiple press conferences and briefings. Then I also read emergency rules, websites. Then I wrote it.

      It’s been a difficult couple of weeks trying to follow all the proposed rule changes. I just need a break from it all. Hopefully, with Hawaii opening today, things will start to settle and calm down.

      Thank you for all your support!

      Fingers crossed that you can travel to Hawaii in 2021.

      Aloha!

  4. Hi Sheila,

    I’m traveling to Hawaii on Christmas Day. I’ve been informed by CVS and Walgreens that 72 hours prior to my departure date is not a good time to test..because the results will be delayed. Do you have a contact person that I can reach out to find out if my private physician can administer a Covid-19 test?

    Much Appreciation,
    LaShawn

    1. Oh, yeah, it could get tricky to test and travel around the holidays.

      In the last section of the article, we list a toll-free number to call, 1-800-GOHAWAII.

      As we said in the article, they are only accepting tests performed by one of their approved, trusted testing partners. That may change in the future, but for now, only tests from their testing partners are approved.

      Did you see that there are a couple of mail-in testing options from their trusted partner lists?

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