Hawaii is planning for tourism to resume starting October 15. Some dark clouds are looming, however, and questions are now starting to arise that could potentially put the kibosh on many visitors’ plans. Here’s what we have learned as of this morning. And we say that because it could still all change later today.
Governor Ige said yesterday that there is a shortage of tests available in Hawaii. Why that is so important to Hawaii’s overall reopening will be clear as you read on.
So the original idea was that if you flew directly to Honolulu or a neighbor island from the mainland, there would be no quarantine with a negative test. But if you were to fly between two islands in Hawaii, the 14-day quarantine would likely still apply.
Ige said yesterday that “The challenge is access to tests. Our concern is the number of tests we currently have available… Typically, we conduct 2,000 to 3,000 tests every day. We want to make sure that we don’t take away from that capacity for leisure travel or travel that wouldn’t be as high a priority.”
This was the first time the governor has taken questions on reopening during the past two critically important weeks since he first announced travel restarting without mandatory quarantine effective October 15.
Three island mayors want a shorter quarantine followed by a second test rather than eliminating the 14-day quarantine.
BOH: These developments bring up a plethora of questions with unknown answers. At this time, the governor has yet to approve the mayors’ requests.
1. Kauai’s mayor said yesterday, “This program would require all travelers, transpacific and interisland, who wish to avoid a full 14-day quarantine to take a COVID test no sooner than 72 hours after arrival to Kauai. All incoming arrivals would be required to quarantine for a minimum of three days after arrival on-island. After three days, travelers could take a COVID test, and those with a negative test would be exempt from the remainder of their quarantine period.”
BOH: Would the 72-hour quarantine be at a special hotel or an ultra-expensive resort bubble at Timbers or Kukuiula? Then you would need to change accommodations thereafter to stay at uber-popular Hawaii vacation rentals. And what about car rentals? If they remain prohibited during quarantine, will visitors have to return to the airports to pick up cars after three days? This all seems onerous and confusing for most visitors. Visitors will be loath to quarantine under unclear circumstances for the first three days of a typically seven-day long Hawaii vacation.
2. Maui’s mayor also likes that 3-day retesting plan, and said, “When you’re talking transpacific, we want to pre-test, and then 72 hours after they land, in quarantine or in their bubble resort, another test to show that they’re negative.”
3. Honolulu’s mayor would also like a second test for arrivals but has reservations. He said, “And if we did a second test for all of those folks, the capacity, the testing capacity, just is not there to do what needs to be done, so we have additional challenges that the other counties don’t have.”
BOH: So what do we have here? An October 15 date for reopening. But apparently, all islands (we’re still waiting to get clarification from Big Island today) are advocating for a second test after a 3-day quarantine. If all of this seems so unclear to us, and we are on the ground and do this professionally, what must visitors be thinking? Once again, we have a PR nightmare brewing with time passing quickly.
What are your thoughts, please?