Hawaii is open to tourists again, but watch out for Covid’s obstacles

HAWAII STAYED a paradisiacal balloon with full palms and a pulsating source for much of the coronavirus pandemic. The state’s mandatory 14-day visitor quarantine, adopted on March 26, has halted tourism, but reduced the number of visitors to the islands from 30,000 daily to less than 500. Now, nine months later, the state is proud of its smallest number. daily average of cases in the country, but also suffers from the highest unemployment rate in America. After months of delays in reopening, Hawaii relaxed travel rules in October to slowly resume tourism, the state’s main economic engine. However, if you are tempted to leave for Aloha State, be careful. The road to Paradise comes with a few obstacles.

The moment is everything

A pre-trip test program went into effect on October 15, allowing travelers to drop the two-week quarantine if they could offer a negative Covid-19 test within 72 hours before arrival. The nuances, such as the need to get a test from a specified supplier, caused headaches, and on November 28, the island of Kaua`ia announced that it would give up the state’s pre-trip testing program and instead will comply with a quarantine of 14 days. “There is mass confusion about what is considered a valid test,” said Gary Moore, general manager of Timbers Kaua`i in Hokuala. “We made a number of guests arrive with a negative test, but it comes from the wrong provider, so it has to be quarantined.” Mr. Moore encourages travelers to read the wonderful footprints of the ever-changing safe travel program (safetravelshawaii.com) before departure, as some testing partners, including CVS, which were originally announced, dropped out.

On November 24, the governor added another layer of complexity to travel, stipulating that visitors must have the results of the confidence tests at hand 72 hours before the final stage of their journey. But given the many unexpected delays this year – not just with the flights, but with the test results – the guarantees are insufficient. A few days before the November flight to Oahu, Don and Sheila Martinson, residents of Longmont, Columbia, got an appointment at an emergency care clinic near their home for a quick PCR test, but the day before the test, the clinic he sent a message telling him that they had no supplies and could not guarantee the results in 72 hours. Fortunately, the couple also scheduled a backup test at a nearby Walgreens and received results within four hours. Despite the problems, tourists are heading to the islands. Between October 15 and November 30, more than 443,000 people came to Hawaii.

At the beaches, the rules of the state with the mask-mandate become a bit murky.


Marco Garcia

The jump to the islands is harder

Before flying, travelers must upload a PDF of Covid test results to the Safe Travels portal in Hawaii and take a health questionnaire. Once completed, passengers are sent an email or a QR code that is scanned at the airport on arrival and at hotels. And since each island has slightly different requirements, visitors may want to restrict their vacation to an island.

Stop being free

Visitors should be prepared to face stricter pandemic rules than most states. State-level masked violators risk a fine of up to $ 5,000 or a year in prison, which is difficult because the details of the warrant itself change frequently. The most current regulations require everyone to wear a mask when walking on or from the beach or pool, as well as on hiking trails, in parks, on sidewalks and, in some cases, on guided canoe trips.

Angela Keen, co-founder of Hawaii Quarantine Kapu Breakers, a community volunteer action group that helps implement safe Covid practices across the island, says visitors need to remember that Hawaii is not just a vacation spot. “This is our home and, welcoming you to our islands, we put on our kapuna [elders] and communities at risk, ”she said. “If people are tested and wear masks, we can bring tourism back. But there must be respect. ”

Travel bubbles are developing in some places in an effort to revive air travel, which declined during the pandemic. The WSJ explains how reopening the sky without quarantine requirements at both ends of a journey could help restart the global economy. Illustration: Crystal Tai

Tourist staples are taking a turn

At the Hilton Waikoloa village on the Big Island, dancers took guests to the hula noho, a form of hula that sits in a position to ensure social distancing. At Westin Maui Resort & Spa, Ka’anapali, luaus have been limited to 170 people, meals are spaced 6 meters apart, and fire dancers are now performing on a waterfall to make sure they are in a safe place. .

You can still get a longer one, but they are a little harder to find. Maui has recently closed its bars for at least a few weeks. The other island bars remain open, but you may be drinking cocktails behind a plexiglass partition and may be asked to fill out a contract tracking form.

Nicole Keefe, who lives in El Dorado Hills, California, traveled to the island in October. “I imagine that’s how Maui was 40 years ago,” Ms. Keefe said, noting that she and her family stayed in the Ka’anapali resort and shared the beach with no more than 10 people. On a catamaran trip to Lanai, she never saw another boat in the water, and her family had waves for themselves when they took surfing lessons. “The turtles could have exceeded the number of visitors,” she said.

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