Updated 11/29/21. What a crazy Thanksgiving weekend with travel and Covid back in the news once again, in a way none of us expected or wanted. And this comes nearly two full years after it all began. As commentor Pam just said, “Welcome to the twilight zone.”
Since Friday, changes have begun to impact travel, but thus far mostly as it relates to international travel. But that is not the end of it. With cases popping up globally, more travel and other Covid rule changes appear inevitable, and Hawaii travel won’t be excluded.
The speed with which all the Omicron news unfolded is head spinning. So too was its immediate impact on travel. And not only is it unnerving at many levels, but the direction in which this may go is entirely uncertain. From the fear of a new and potentially vaccine-avoiding variant to contrasting news this morning, wherein the head of the South African Medical Association said that the symptoms are generally mild, short-lived, and treatable at home. Then NIH concurred, saying there isn’t data to suggest Omicron causes worse illness than previous variants. Yet, it is unclear how fast it can spread and whether current vaccines will help.
Even Hawaii travel is no longer assured.
We were settling into some kind of better normalcy here in Hawaii travel. In less than three days, many of Hawaii’s Covid rules are set to be relaxed. But that was all before we learned Omicron.
Something became clear to us again; that travel assurance can turn on a dime. Our prior assumption that things will be more normal, like Hawaii travel plans, is simply no longer guaranteed.
Hawaii officials tried over the weekend to assure travelers and residents. So even as Japan closed it borders for now, and WHO just said, “the overall global risk related to the (omicron variant) is assessed as very high.” Honolulu’s mayor said, however, “we have no reason whatsoever here in Hawaii to worry about that other than it just being a concern.” And Hawaii’s Lieutenant Governor said “we really do not want to lock down again. We really do not want to restrict any activities. We really want to get back to normal.”
Hawaii travel during times of uncertainty: risks, rewards and key takeaways.
For many of us, travel has been on hold for what seems like a very long time. Recently, however, Hawaii travel has definitely been looking a lot easier and more promising. But now, there’s a wrench in the works. Here are some of the implications.
1. Travel insurance with cancel for any reason is at the top of our list going forward.
2. Hawaii deals will remain in focus for the foreseeable future, in part due to the travel uncertainty that has raised its head again. We feel certain that bookings are down and cancellations are up since Friday.
3. Flexibility is key. Reservations that can be modified easily at little or no cost make Hawaii travel much more appealing. Some examples are airfares that can be changed without penalty (on all but the cheapest tickets), accommodations that can be changed until close-in to Hawaii travel dates, and Hawaii car rentals or Turo rentals that can also be cancelled at the last minute without penalty.
How could the state of Hawaii react to Omicron?
1. It could change plans in terms of new rules set to start on December 1. We’ll know more about that in the next day or two.
2. If for any reason travel for those vaccinated were no longer to be deemed safe in the US, Hawaii could attempt to reinstate pre-travel testing for all passengers, in addition to vaccination. Thus far, Hawaii has not felt it could assert the need to resume travel testing since the CDC has taken the position that travel is safe for those fully vaccinated.
3. Further potential restrictions are possible but remain unclear at this time.
Does Omicron changes your Hawaii travel planning?