Update: Kauai has opted out of the Travel Program for now. All visitors must quarantine for 10 days regardless of whether they have tested or not. (Dec. 17, 2020)
It was the news we had all been waiting for – Hawaii’s Reopening! Governor Ige held a news conference yesterday to announce that Hawaii will reopen to domestic travel on October 15th, as long as visitors can show a negative Covid-19 test result within 72 hours of the last leg of departure. So, what does this mean?
The 14-day quarantine is still in effect for domestic and international travel, and will continue to be in effect indefinitely. However, now there is another option for travelers outside the state. The model was taken from Alaska’s reopening. If a visitor agrees to take a NAAT, Covid-19 test within 72 hours of the last leg of departure, and is able to show a negative result, they will be allowed to enter the state after October 15th without having to quarantine.
Many have questioned how they can meet these requirements when some areas still require a doctor’s referral to get tested and test result findings can sometimes take up to a week. Josh Green, Hawaii’s Lieutenant Governor, has been working diligently with CVS Pharmacy and Kaiser to create a national program which avoids these two problems. The idea is that one would go to the pharmacy to give his/her specimen and then the results would be uploaded into a data base with which Hawaii officials would have access. These companies have indicated they can meet the 72 hour deadline. The details have not been released yet however I would expect much more information to be forthcoming in the next few weeks. The cost would run between $120 and $140, although Kaiser is considering offering the tests to their members for free.
From the Governor’s Office:
Pre-Travel Testing Option to Begin on Oct. 15, 2020
At an afternoon news briefing, Gov. David Ige announced plans for a Hawai‘i pre-travel testing program that gives travelers the option of possibly avoiding 14-day-long quarantine upon arrival to the state. This is viewed as one of the key measures for revitalizing Hawai‘i’s visitor-centric economy, while providing protection for the spread of COVID-19. Key components of the pre-travel testing program include:
- All travelers must either pre-test or go into 14-day quarantine upon arrival to the state
- All travelers are required to have temperature checked and complete a health & travel questionnaire
- As an alternative to quarantine a traveler must produce evidence of a negative COVID-19 test no earlier than 72-hours prior to their flight arrival in Hawai‘i
- The interisland quarantine for anyone arriving on any island other than O‘ahu continues through Sept. 30, unless terminated or extended by a separate emergency proclamation
- FDA-approved NAAT tests, processed by a CLIA-certified laboratory are the only types of coronavirus tests currently approved
- Currently approved trusted testing partners are CVS, and Kaiser Permanente (Others will be added)
The State has produced an extensive list of questions and answers associated with the Safe Travels Pre-Testing Program. See the FAQs at: hawaiicovid19.com
Vacation Rental Owners, including myself, are so excited that guests will now have an option to come to Kauai without having to quarantine. It has been a very difficult time for all of us as our properties have been sitting empty for months. This program is not 100% risk free, but neither is daily life on the mainland. With this option available, it is hard to imagine anyone choosing to not test, board the plane, and then have to quarantine for 14 days.
I don’t expect that we will have the same number of tourists arriving, but in a way that makes it even nicer for those who do decide to come. I must say it is rather idyllic right now – no crowds, no traffic, and most businesses are back up and running with social distancing practices in place. Tom and I celebrated our anniversary in June by going to The Bistro in Kilauea. It was the first time we had gone out to dinner since March. The waiters and service persons had on masks, tables were spaced apart, the food was delicious (try the seafood gumbo!), and it was the first time I felt somewhat “normal” in a long time.
There is, of course, so much uncertainty still involved, which makes it very hard to plan a vacation. For this reason I would strongly encourage everyone to purchase travel insurance for your future trips. It has always been a good idea, especially when traveling to an area which has hurricanes, but now it is even more important. I realize that many trip insurance policies did not cover the pandemic, but now companies are coming out with plans that do. CSA, as an example, has a plan which covers you if you get Covid-19 during your trip and even if you should test positive 72 hours before your flight. I do not know all the details yet, but a friend of mine is a rep for the company and after I called her with this question she emailed CSA. The response, from a Generali (the parent company of CSA) contact, stated, “Yes, if the guest tests positive and they’ve purchased insurance before testing, that would be a covered reason for cancellation. Furthermore, that would cover everyone going on the trip.” She said she was putting together a marketing piece for her Hawaii accounts to help drive insurance sales as a result of this new protocol. Yes, the insurance companies’ goal is to make money, but booking a vacation rental with confidence, knowing that if you have to cancel you will get your money back, goes a long way to reduce stress!
As you can imagine Kauai residents are a bit nervous about opening our borders to visitors because we have been living in a Kauai Pandemic Bubble for six months. Please be sensitive to this fear, and respect the safety measures in place. You will find most people wearing a mask in public. We are a small community, living on a small island which has a history of residents being devastated by disease. We must all be careful.
So, do not give up on that dreamy Kauai vacation. Hawaii’s reopening has made it possible. It will not be quite as easy to get here, but once you do, you will not be sorry.
Following is a list of websites which you may find helpful and informative.
Hawaii’s Reopening References:
Kauai Covid-19 Website with updates from Mayor Kawakami on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.
Hawaii’s Covid-19 Joint Information Center Website.
Governor Ige’s News Release (September 16th, 2020).
Hawaii’s Disease Outbreak Control Division website.
Mandatory Travel Declaration Form.
Kaua‘i Travel Tips: Land Safety, https://youtu.be/f6quQU5AtjM
Kaua‘i Travel Tips: Ocean Safety, https://youtu.be/bj3mV3-1bnA
Kaua‘i Travel Tips: Travel Pono, https://youtu.be/hzuQRtWinsQ
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