Hawaii reopening to tourism beginning Oct 15, pre-travel testing required

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Could this be the news that would really reopen Hawaii’s doors to tourism? Back in July, there were plans to reopen the doors to many travelers, granted they take pre-travel COVID testing within 72 hours of their trip.

According to Hawaii News Now, this will be “launched Oct. 15, allowing trans-Pacific visitors to forgo a 14-day quarantine if they test negative for COVID-19.”

How will this work

  • Travelers will have to test negative for COVID-19
  • They will have to test no more than 72 hours before arrival to qualify for the quarantine exemption
  • Trans-Pacific travelers of all ages will be subject to the rule.
Hawaii Pre-Travel or 14 day quarantine – source: Hawaii News Now/State of Hawaii

The search for a quick pre-travel test result

So at this point, anyone wishing to travel to Hawaii will need to make sure to get tested within 72 hours of their arrival to Hawaii. So, if someone were to arrive in Hawaii on a Saturday at noon, that tells me that this person would need to be tested by Wednesday, and will need to have the negative test results in hand by the time they arrive in Hawaii.

My wife recently got tested for COVID, and she had to request this test from her physician to get tested at a local Kaiser Permanente clinic. She got her results within 24 hours via text message.

A month prior to that, she and her sister went to a drive-thru testing site at a local community college. They tested on the same day, around the same time, and my wife got her results in 3 days via text, while her sister got her results 5 days later.

That’s the issue I see with this. Not all testing sites could provide guaranteed results in less than 3 days. Some folks are still getting their results past 72 hours.

So looking at the picture above, if you book a trip to Hawaii, get tested before your trip, but your results aren’t available by the time you are in Hawaii, you’ll be looking at the orange section. What does that mean? You’re going to need to quarantine until your results are received, and pray that you get your results soon, so you could begin exploring Hawaii. Otherwise, you’ll be stuck in quarantine.

Resort bubbles approved on Kauai

Just a day prior to the announcement of the Oct 15 planned reopening with pre-travel testing, the governor signed a new rule being dubbed as Enhanced Movement Quarantine, or resort bubble. What does this mean? Resort bubbles? According to Beat of Hawaii:

Travelers will be permitted to roam approved resorts on Kauai, but will not be able to leave the property to go to beaches such as Salt Pond pictured here, or restaurants, or stores. They are required to wear an electronic surveillance bracelet which allows the resort to monitor their movements. Visitors will have access to resort restaurants and pools and will be required to maintain distancing and wear masks. Any violations will be reported first to resort security, then Kauai police. Visitors who violate any rules, including removing the bracelet, could, if found guilty, spend up to one year in prison, be fined $5,000, or both.

So for untested guests, this would feel like being a glorified resort inmate, where you’ll wear a bracelet, and just stay within the confines of the resort. It doesn’t look like the resort bubbles will  allow you to go to the beaches directly near your resort. From reading the passage above, resort bubbles will give you access to pools and resort restaurants.

So does this mean that the resort bubble concept which was just announced a day prior to the October 15 planned reopening – does this mean that the resort bubble concept will no longer be needed?

My two cents

It’s definitely a different time that we’re all facing in our lives. I, myself, had not flown since early March, just a week before the major shutdown. About this resort bubble concept, when I think of vacation in Hawaii, I think of freely enjoying my time hopping from one beach to another, waking up early morning to buy fresh, hot malasadas, sipping a cup of Kauai brewed coffee, and going pretty much anywhere I please. I love Kauai, and would love to go back there in a heartbeat, but the thought of just staying within the resort is not going to work for me. A Hawaiian vacation for many of travelers making their way to Hawaii, most of them have this on their once-in-a-lifetime bucket list. Most of them have saved up thousands of dollars to make this vacation a reality. If I were one of those folks, I would certainly not want to fly to Hawaii just to be stuck in the hotel. For me and my family, Hawaii is not about the resort alone, it’s the people, the aloha spirit, the adventures, the sunrise and sunset, the warm breeze you feel when driving around the island.

About the October 15 planned reopening with a negative pre-travel COVID testing, could this really be the date that won’t change anymore? We’ve seen this date change month over month. And as I had mentioned above, finding that testing site that will give you test results taken within 72 hours of arrival, that would be key to making this “vacation” a reality. Otherwise, I would hate to travel to Hawaii with no confirmed test results on hand, and be subjected to quarantine until I get my results, just not a good way to kick off my Hawaiian vacation.

I will continue to keep track of the reopening progress and keep this entry updated.

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Previous Entry (published July 13, 2001)

New developments were announced on July 13, 2020, these developments affect travelers who plan on visiting Hawaii this summer.

Here’s what we knew prior to July 13, 20201

Before August 1, 2020 – all trans-Pacific travelers to Hawaii are required to do a mandatory 14-day quarantine

Beginning August 1, 2020 – if you want to avoid the 14-day mandatory quarantine, all trans-Pacific travelers  must present a negative coronavirus test result. The result must be with you on the day you arrive in Hawaii, and the test must’ve been taken within 72 hours of your trip to Hawaii. No coronavirus tests will be administered in Hawaii upon arrival.

CHANGES: Delayed reopening

As of July 13, 2020, the governor announced that Hawaii will be delaying the launch of pre-travel testing program until September 1, 2020. Instead, the 14-day mandatory quarantine has been extended for all trans-Pacific travelers. This extension is through the end of August 2020.

According to Hawaii News Now:

“The current plan for testing visitors 72 hours before arriving in the State of Hawaiʻi is inadequate as it will increase the exposure of COVID-19 to airline, hotel, and service industry employees,” the Hawaii County Council said in a statement. “These are our families, friends, and neighbors.”

What led to this change?

According to the Star Advertiser:

“…an uptick in coronavirus cases in Hawaii and a huge increase in some mainland states led government officials to reassess the plan.”

Governor Ige reiterated during a news conference that “the outbreaks on the mainland are also beginning to affect the supply chain of of our testing supplies.” He also said, “we still believe in the pre-travel testing program, we engaged with test suppliers and pharmacies all across the country, we will be making announcements as to who those partners would be as we complete those negotiations.”

What does this mean if you have booked a trip to Hawaii in August?

Based on today’s announcement, having a negative test result with you will not be sufficient anymore to avoid the quarantine. If you pursue with your trip in August, you will be subject to the mandatory 14-day quarantine.

I wanted to travel to Hawaii, but…

Yes, that’s right. If you’ve been following me and my blog for many years, you’d know that my family and I are regular visitors to Hawaii during the summer months. When it was announced that a negative coronavirus test result was needed prior to traveling to Hawaii, it was a green light for me. I got excited, not going to lie. But I had to do my legwork. I checked around my city, my county, and my health insurance as to the feasibility of getting tested for coronavirus:

My health insurance clinic would only reserve the tests for those who are displaying the symptoms, not those who want to get tested for the sake of travel.

I checked with the city and county in my area, and have followed quite a few posts on Facebook. Many of those who took the test received varying results. Some got the results within 48 hours (which is ideal), others got them close to 7 days (which then defeats your purpose in having your results ready before your trip). Therefore, it’s a risk to book a trip, not knowing if and/or when I’d get the results.

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What about trips booked in September and beyond

As we can all see, things are changing daily with how the states are dealing with COVID-19. In California alone, we began to slowly reopen, just to find ourselves having to shut down many of the facilities again. So my suggestion is to have a back-up plan, know your airline’s cancellation or rescheduling policies (same with your hotel, condo, AirBNB, VRBO, timeshare, car rental) – all of these types of bookings have a variation of policies.

Going stir-crazy, but I’ll just have to wait

I tried. I really tried to book us a return trip to Hawaii. I had enough miles and points to book us a trip to Hawaii and only pay $11 out of pocket per person. My family has been going stir crazy. We are so used to be traveling somewhere around the world during this time of year. But the odds are all against us. Hawaii will have to wait. I’d like to be able to visit, and explore the island freely.

What are you going to do?

So, do you have any tickets booked to Hawaii? What are your plans?

 

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Author: Jason

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