At a press conference today, Monday, July 13, Hawaii Governor David Ige announced a postponement of the Hawaii COVID-19 pre-testing travel program for Hawaii visitors to avoid the current mandatory 14-day quarantine required of Hawaii visitors. The previous date of August 1 for the implementation of the program is now delayed, at least, through the month of August. The quarantine will remain in place.
Governor Ige noted three main factors in the decision, made with the input of the leaders of Hawaii’s counties who had urged the Governor to reconsider the August 1 implementation of the pre-testing program. The Honolulu City Council voted unanimously to approve a resolution asking the Governor to consider delay the program, and the mayors of Neighbor Island counties expressed similar concerns.
First, a startling, record number of new cases of Hawaii COVID-19 were reported over the past weekend. Three new COVID deaths in Hawaii were confirmed this Monday morning. That is an alarming spike following a clear drop and plateau of cases of the virus in Hawaii.
Second, the decision was made following grizzly, record spikes in US Mainland cities of reported cases, hospitalizations, and deaths of COVID-19. Many of those spikes occurred (and are occurring) in states like California, Arizona, Texas, and Nevada. Each of those states are home to major departure points for travelers to Hawaii.
Third, Governor Ige said a “breakdown of the supply chain” in COVID-19 testing materials and equipment was a factor in the decision to delay the pre-testing policy. While in-state testing can return results, generally, within 48 hours, tests taken on or sent to the mainland can take from 5-10 days to return results. That renders Hawaii’s 72-hour window for exemption from quarantine moot for hopeful Hawaii visitors, and for officials and residents committed to preventing the spread of COVID.
Ige noted at today’s presser that the outbreaks of the virus are “not in control” on the US mainland and that there “is a clear lack of federal policy” to help US states and counties manage the disease. “We don’t believe that the situation will change,” Ige said.
What visitors should take way from today’s press conference is that the mandatory 14-day quarantine remains in effect through August. Visitors should also consider the fact that the actions of other communities on the US Mainland will continue to affect policies enacted by Hawaii’s elected and appointed officials. We want to remain, as Health Director Bruce Anderson put it, “the healthiest place in the nation”.
Want to come to Hawaii? Wear a mask at home. The people of Hawaii and their elected and appointed officials are not willing to sacrifice public health and safety to accommodate visitors unconvinced or unconcerned about the further impact of COVID-19 in Hawaii. It is already calamitous.
Hawaii Aloha Travel owner Bruce Fisher says of today’s announcement, “We’re genuinely disappointed.” He’ll now have to inform dozens of clients that their vacations plans, some made many months in advance of onset of the pandemic, will have to be changed or cancelled altogether. Fortunately, travel insurance and rebookings are available.
Bruce, like everyone in Hawaii’s travel industry, is frustrated at the moving goalposts of reopening Hawaii travel. Leaders in the sector have been told that a July opening was possible, then an August opening, and now, maybe, September. Although he is disappointed by the extension of the quarantine requirement, Bruce says, “It was expected.”
We here at Hawaii Aloha Travel strive to be the eyes and the ears, the blood, sweat and tears of those on the ground for visitors planning a Hawaii vacation. Stay with us for the latest insights on the future of Hawaii vacations.
Posted by: Jamie Winpenny