Hawaii Resort Bubble Boondoggle + Other Covid Oddities

Hawaii Resort Bubble Boondoggle + Other Covid Oddities

When we recently heard that “AlohaSafe” was just discontinued, we were thinking about other COVID programs and terms we lived with for years. It was a crazy time, and none of us knew what was happening or what to do. We still have large tubs of Clorox wipes used to wipe down groceries, packages, and even the mail in the early days.

Covid time warp.

While AlohaSafe alerts just ended, it’s been over a year since Safe Travels has been gone. There is a time warp, it seems, where we want to forget everything that happened during it, and somehow it just doesn’t compare with any other period we can remember. What about you?

Here’s a look back at AlohaSafe, Resort Bubbles, Hawaii Safe Travels, Hawaii’s Covid curfew, and more. These programs emerged as Hawaii tried its best to navigate the way through Covid. How many of these do you remember?

AlohaSafe mandatory tracing was a phone App. It shared your Covid test results with other users’ phones near you. A notification was sent to your phone if you had been within 6 feet of an infected person for 15 minutes or longer. We wrote about the AlohaSafe program and said, “Governor Ige late yesterday approved the mandatory contact tracing requirement for all travelers from both the mainland and interisland to Maui.” Editor Rob installed it on his phone, while editor Jeff did not.

Kauai Mayor Derek Kawakami became an instant celebrity. After a nightly curfew was imposed on Kauai, he and his family did evening broadcasts featuring home-based activities like cooking, making masks, and dancing. Regarding the nightly curfew at 9 pm (or was it 10 pm?), rarely does anyone ever go out late on Kauai anyway, but suddenly we missed the mere ability to do so.

Hawaii Safe Travels. Can you believe this ended less than two years ago? The chart below will be a reminder of what it was like to visit Hawaii, which included Covid tests, a health questionnaire, and more. Failure to adhere precisely to the policy would land you in Quarantine for 14 days on arrival.

Hawaii Safe Travels as it was. The program ended in March 2022.
Hawaii Safe Travels as it was. The program ended in March 2022.

Hawaii Resort Bubbles started at select resorts like the one above.

Kauai, Big Island, and Maui pursued “resort bubbles” for travelers. The governor at the time issued a proclamation approving it. The resort bubble concept was a way to replace the 14-day in-room quarantine with a 14-day resort stay as long as you did not leave the property.

In a post with about 500 comments, visitors were overwhelmingly against the bubble idea. One reader, Kathy, commented, “Perhaps we can make a reality show called ‘Prison in Paradise’; the old Fantasy Island show with a twist. The theme song should be Hotel California.”

We said then that Hawaii hotels, unlike other all-inclusive resorts worldwide, were never intended to be destinations in and of themselves. And the whole idea of a resort bubble was antithetical to the expected Hawaii experience. Visitors stayed at oceanfront resorts but could only view the ocean from their hotel. On Maui, there was talk of setting up a beach in front as an alternative that would be closed to everyone other than those in the hotel’s quarantine.

Ultimately, the idea was deemed not viable, seemed insulting, and we aren’t even sure it was safe. Editor Rob said, “We’re reminded of blowing bubbles as a kid, how pretty it looked for a moment, but then the bubble burst. So it went with this idea.” The resort bubble boondoggle allowed your every movement to be followed via a transponder bracelet and associated location compliance tracking software connected with police and other security.

Kauai modified resort bubbles and opted out of Safe Travels.

Quarantine had been reduced to 10 days, and Kauai implemented a 3-day Resort Bubble to shorten the time. Visitors could test on the island after three days and be released with a negative Covid test.

The Kauai major proclaimed that resort bubbles were “Just one step in the staged approach for a broader opening of travel.”

The Grand Hyatt Kauai was closed during Covid and had no interest in the program. This, the largest resort on Kauai, simply was not wanting to “bubble.”

And if you got antsy and needed to free yourself from your bubble’s bracelet, you’d have better thought twice. The mayor said, “This technology… if somebody tries to take this band off, it will also ping the resort security as well as our local law enforcement.

Then it all came to a welcome and rather abrupt end.

We wrote in March 2022, “There’s a change in the air throughout Hawaii today. It’s our last day wearing masks. Starting at midnight tonight, we will, at long last, mark the end of the state’s emergency Covid proclamation. With that goes the Hawaii Safe Travels program and the indoor mask mandate.”

And so began the return to Hawaii following Covid.

Suddenly when traveling to Hawaii, it was just like before we ever heard of Covid. This was great news for many, including those heading to the islands for spring break. Following that, there were some 1 million visitor arrivals in the first 30 days.

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12 thoughts on “Hawaii Resort Bubble Boondoggle + Other Covid Oddities”

  1. The reality is, Covid was something we weren’t prepared for and had to adapt our policies as we learned more about it. All we knew at the beginning was it killed people, especially the immunisupressed and elderly.

    As we learned more, policies changed. The virus changed as well. In it’s current mutation it still kills people; it speads more easily so it’s not feasible to control just through PPE and isolation measures, but it also appears less deadly than the original version.

    Hindsight is 20/20. Our political leaders and health advisors did what they thought best based on the information available to them at the time. What is most important us that we learn from this experience, because a different pandemic is always a possibility.

    1. I don’t believe the so called experts did what was “best”! They so it as an opportunity to lie, cheat and steal!

  2. Wow what a great article! I was living on Kauai when covid hit…Yes I have memory of the restrictions, walking on the beach, not laying on the beach etc. Costco lines, masks gloves and wondering if it would ever end….. Back in the mainland now and have traveled many times back and forth during the Crazy Covid times! Thankful it’s over and Hawaii has a chance to heal🩵

  3. Hindsight is always 20:20. Hawaii did the best it could under the circumstances with what we knew at the time. Things could have easily gone the other direction and the Hawaiian Islands could have become “Covid Islands.”

    1. Use common sense, if politicians believed in COVID risk why did so many violate their own COVID rules? Why were Costco, Walmart and Bars safe but schools and churches fatal? Asking questions is not hindsight it is the scientific method.

      1. Remember when people like you with comon sense were called ” knuckleheads”?

        Remember when masks outsdoors were saving lives, clising beaches was saving lives? Until science finally kicked in and not a single case of the flu was attributed to outdoor activities. 70,000 Hawaii citation later… non refundable.

        I left for FL and never looked back. Weopened, didnt all die, and had less deaths than CA, and better overall stats than NY. Kids stayed in school..

        Hawaii is an island 2500mi in the middle of the Pacific with a young healthy outdoors population. Hawaii was never destined to be doomed. Far too many healthy vegans and fish eaters vs the fats on the mainland.

  4. I want to forget The National Guard coming to my home; sometimes twice a day in Military gear; driving tank sized Hummers.I traveled Inter-island and despite a negative Covid test I experienced House arrest. I won’t forget the palpable fear from my neighbors

  5. Thanks for reminding us–it was not that long ago. I remember the SFO airport being empty. Because of all the rules for Hawaii we traveled to Mexico where we would not have to be quarantined. And then there were the friends who acted as if I was reckless and stupid to travel. I took at least a dozen flights during those 3 years and never got sick.

  6. You call them COVID oddities, I call them
    Some of my “memories” in California include:
    Gov Newsom closing the beaches using CHP officers stationed with guns at K-rails blockading State Beach roads and City policing blocking and chasing lone bicyclists on bike trails. Never forget.

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