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The past few months have been extremely tough for Hawaii after the state introduced a 14-day quarantine in late March. Plans to welcome visitors have been pushed back several times, but it appears Hawaiis plan to reopen next week is unraveling before our eyes.
Starting in March, both residents and visitors were subject to Hawaii’s 14-day quarantine. In other words, if you flew into any of the islands, you had to stay in your hotel room (or at your residence) for two weeks before going anywhere on the island.
Additionally, Hawaii had no option for visitors to bypass the 14-day quarantine.
Recognizing that most visitors do NOT want to spend 2 weeks in a hotel before experiencing a vacation has decimated the number of visitors to Hawaii.
Additionally, there have been several reports of Hawaii arresting countless visitors for violating the 14-day quarantine which I trust has thwarted any thoughts of “getting around” the rules.
However, a month ago, David Ige, the Hawaii Governor, announced that visitors would be able to visit Hawaii when it launches its pre-travel testing program on 15 October 2020. With the new pre-travel testing program, visitors could skip the quarantine after they provided a negative coronavirus test result within 72 hours before arrival in Hawaii.
TROUBLE IN PARADISE
According to the Star Adviser, Gov. David Ige had given each county the option to opt out of the program that would allow travelers who test negative to avoid the state’s mandatory 14-day quarantine.
Hawaii island (aka Kauai County) Mayor Harry Kim urged the governor to implement a rule that required quarantine pending a second negative test 3 days after arrival, but the governor denied Kauai County’s proposal to establish a post-travel testing program.
So what did Kauai do? They opted out of the program and would still require 14 day quarantine on arrival.
Well, late Friday night, Kim said Gov. David Ige tentatively approved his proposal after he secured a commitment for an unlimited supply of tests with up to $3.5 million in federal CARES Act coronavirus relief funding.
It’s worth noting that all of this took place over the course of a week…and the week before Hawaii is supposed to reopen.
This year has been extremely tough for Hawaii as the islands rely heavily on tourism. I trust that attempting to balance the economy (read: we need tourists) with restricting access (read: an outbreak of COVID-19 cases could be catastrophic), has been impossible to say the least.
Additionally, in the past few days, the Big Island has recorded their worst days for positive coronavirus test results and this decision could be a breaking point for the island, given the governors plan to push forward and reopen on October 15.
Perhaps, even more frustrated are the passengers that are planning to arrive next week. I think one of the biggest hurdles for destinations (and the travel industry at-large) is clarity. Hawaii, specifically, has attempted – and failed – to reopen several times over the course of several months. How can anyone plan ahead if the rules continue to change weekly (if not daily)?
Are you planning a trip to Hawaii given this development?