Hawaii reopened to tourism on October 15 with the implementation of their pre-travel testing program for all travelers looking to visit the islands.
The program allowed travelers to forego the mandatory 14-day quarantine by providing proof of a negative COVID-19 test from a trusted partner.
Hawai‘i’s pre-travel testing program for incoming passengers started on Oct. 15, allowing travelers arriving in the islands an opportunity to bypass the mandatory 14-day quarantine with a negative test result. The test must be from one of Hawaii’s pre-approved testing and travel partners.
Hawaii’s government has provided recommendations for those looking to travel to the islands from the mainland:
- Set up your account at travel.hawaii.gov well in advance.
- Familiarize yourself with what kind of information you’ll need to provide about your itinerary, current health status, residence/lodging and testing status.
- Know your technology and practice uploading PDF files to your phone so you can seamlessly transfer them to the Safe Travels app. Follow the directions on uploading a quality PDF file for your test result with the required information, which will help improve chances of expediting verification of test results. Visit https://ets.hawaii.gov/travelhelp/ for more information.
- Review the options for trusted testing and travel partners, as the state doesn’t accept COVID-19 testing from non-approved partners. Research which partners provide testing in your departure city or town and be sure to schedule within the 72-hour departure window.
Since Hawaii reopened to tourism on October 15 through November 8 204,685 trans-Pacific and international travelers arrived in the islands.
Let’s dive into some of the details for those wanting to travel to Hawaii
In order to forego quarantine, the Hawaiian islands now accept a preflight coronavirus test for entry under the Safe Travels programs. The state only accepts what are called nucleic acid amplification tests processed by specially certified laboratories, and test results from certain trusted testing and travel partners, including some airlines. Other tests are not recognized and will not allow the passenger to forego the 14 day quarantine process.
The proof of a negative test must be within 72 hours of departing for the Hawaiian islands. If travelers arrive with a test still pending, they must quarantine until negative results are received.
Hawaiian Airlines is one of the trusted partners travelers can receive a pre-travel COVID-19 test from. “Hawaii is at the vanguard of what travel will look like for the next year or so as we reopen,” said Avi Mannis, senior vice president of marketing at Hawaiian Airlines.
Hawaiian Airlines is offereing the approved tests through Worksite Labs. The tests are administered to passengers at drive-through labs near Los Angeles International and San Francisco International airports for $90 for results within 36 hours, or $150 for day-of-travel express service.
Passengers take the tests within 72 hours of traveling. They then upload their results to the Hawaii Safe Travel app before departing and show their results to state authorities in Hawaii upon landing. It is important to note that the airline doesn’t check passengers’ test results before they board, that is the responsibility of the traveler.
“Your test results are between you, your health care provider and the state of Hawaii,” Mr. Mannis said.
When Tourism Fell
The quarantine, combined with citations for not wearing masks and fines on people who broke the quarantine, helped Hawaii to drastically reduce the number of coronavirus cases in the state.
But, tourism makes up the 21 percent of Hawaii’s economy. In addition, the tourism industry feeds almost every other industry on the islands. 2019 marked a record high in terms of visitors to the islands. In 2020 tourism and of course the economic revenue from tourism plummeted by 99 percent.
The drop in tourism has devastated Hawaii. The state has seen a spike in those experiencing homelessness, domestic violence has increased and many islanders are struggling to make ends meet. Josh Green, the state’s lieutenant governor stated that, had the islands kept the quarantine mandate longer, those numbers, as well as the number of people calling hotlines with plans of self harm, would have skyrocketed.
“We are all at risk whether we live here in Hawaii or on the mainland and we can’t stay isolated forever, we won’t survive,” he said. “There are people who want to ride this out until a vaccine comes, but it’s hard to make that policy when we know that homelessness will surge, kids won’t get vaccines and so on. Saying ‘don’t come under any circumstances’ is not realistic.”
What Some Locals Are Saying
A large number of locals have been very vocal in their opposition to allowing tourists back in.
Locals are upset that tourists are putting them and their families at risk to vacation. They aren’t wrong. On the same token, Hawaii relies so heavily on the tourism industry, it’s a double edged sword.
Without tourism, Hawaii is struggling, with tourism, Hawaii is in danger.
Locals are asking tourists to not visit at this time but the government is encouraging visitors to return.
If you do travel to Hawaii, we beg you to please respect the rules and even though, yes this is your vacation, this is their home and their families, and their lives. Please respect that, follow the rules, wear the masks, sanitize, be cautious and be kind.
Stay tuned for more information as it becomes available.