Yes, it actually happened! Yesterday Hawaii’s opening got underway with a few thousand visitors clamoring to get back to Paradise. You have not heard from me since June as the leadup to this day has been a roller coaster of emotions trying to keep track of the minute by minute changes and confusion over just how and when this was going to happen. Oahu had a spike in Covid positive cases in September and was shut down for a couple of weeks. Now the numbers have stabilized and the State positivity rate is less than 3%. Josh Green, our Lieutenant Governor has been working tirelessly (even through getting Covid himself) to set up the Trans-Pacific Safe Travels program. It won’t be as easy to get to the islands as it use to be, but now it’s possible to do so without having to quarantine.
For the most complete information from the State, go to hawaiicovid19.com. There you will find a Safe Travels tab which will take you to a page that links an Overview of the Program, Pre-Travel requirements, Tips and Advice to stay healthy, and Frequently Asked Questions. The bottom line is that, in order to avoid quarantine, one must take a NAAT (Nucleic Acid Amplification Test) Covid-19 test from a “Trusted Partner”, within 72 hours prior to the last Mainland leg of departure, and have a negative test result to show officials upon arrival. The cost of the test is borne by the traveler. You may upload the test result or have a printed copy. If the test result has not come back prior to arrival, travelers must quarantine in a designated hotel (not a vacation rental) until test results come in. Every traveler must also complete the digital Safe Travels Registration Form for each leg of travel from the last mainland departure to your final island destination. An email will be sent to you with a QR code for each leg of travel to be shown upon arrival with your test result.
As of today, there are seventeen “Trusted Partners” who have agreed to give the test to Hawaii travelers, with the intent of getting the results back within the 72 hour restriction. The three big names are CVS, Walgreens, and Kaiser. The CVS test costs $139. Kaiser has agreed to test members for free. I haven’t heard what Walgreens is charging. There are also mail order companies. The most popular is VAULT for $150. A traveler must order the VAULT kit ahead of time, make a video appointment for an employee to actually watch the saliva (spit) come from the traveler into the container, mail the sample back to the company (UPS Express), and wait for the results. Some airlines have also agreed to test out of specific airports. The port of Oakland is testing all Hawaii travelers and is a trusted partner. To find a list of trusted partners and their websites, go to https://hawaiicovid19.com/travel-partners/. If you are traveling with children under five, they do not have to be tested. Some companies will not test children under 12 years of age.
A voluntary second test will be available 72 hours after arrival, if desired. It will be a rapid test with results in 15 minutes.
On the same page, https://hawaiicovid19.com/travel-partners/, you will also find a list of Daily News Digest reports which has travel updates and statistical Covid details from the Department of Health.
Here are some scenarios from the Tourist Authority for your consideration:
- If the transpac traveler has taken the COVID-19 NAAT test FROM ONE OF THE LISTED PARTNERS 72 hrs before departing their last leg of the flight to Hawaii – they will be cleared and can avoid the 14-day quarantine and enjoy the island.
- If the transpac traveler has taken the NAAT Test, but did not get results yet, they must quarantine in a hotel/motel until they get the results and show their accommodations to get out of quarantine (checking to see who the accommodation’s contact is to take them off the quarantine list).
- If the transpac traveler did not take a 72 hr. NAAT pre-test – they will have to go straight into a 14-day quarantine – NO NAAT PRE-TESTING will be done on Kaua‘i for visitors.
- If the transpac traveler got their NAAT pre-test 72 hrs before arriving on O‘ahu (or another island) and leaves the secure area of Honolulu Airport to shop, stay overnight – they are subject now to the interisland 14-day quarantine and will need to be retested with another NAAT test in Hawaii.
- If a traveler refuses to use the Safe Travels registration program – they will not be released from the airport.
What about Kauai?
Naturally, residents are more than a bit nervous about visitors coming to the islands and spreading the disease, especially on Kauai where residents have enjoyed a fairly Covid-free existence for months. Kauai has had just 59 confirmed cases since March and has none at this time. We would hope that visitors are respectful of our limited capacity for serious health issues and follow the protocols for safety. PLEASE wear a mask at all times when out in public, with the exception of when exercising and enjoying water activities. Beaches and hiking trails are open, but they will close if our numbers go up.
Kauai has instituted a tiered system which can be found in the Mayor’s Emergency Rule #19. This tiered system is a Kauai Business and Recreational Guideline for Covid-19. Restrictions are based on the number of Covid cases and the test positivity rate for a 7-day average. For information about Kauai’s response to Covid, and for the Mayor’s updates (Monday, Wednesday, Friday afternoon), go to www.kauai.gov/covid-19.
It has been a very difficult seven months for everyone. Kauai’s economy is suffering, some businesses have closed, and many residents are out of work. We are hoping that Hawaii’s opening will help the many who have suffered economic losses during this time, without causing our Covid numbers to rise to a point that we have to institute a quarantine again. Fingers crossed that everyone will do their part to make this happen.
For a bucket-list experience at our luxury Kauai vacation rental on the north shore of Kauai, go to any other page of this website. For more of my blogs, or to subscribe, go to the right-hand side of this page (not phones). There is a category list to make searching a bit easier. Mahalo!