Hawaii Under Pressure With 3 Weeks to Reopening

Hawaii Under Pressure With 3 Weeks to Reopening

It is getting perilously close to October 15. Reopening is good news for many here in Hawaii and on the mainland. Hawaii residents are anxious to return to work, while visitors are excited to be some of the first to visit Hawaii after a long hiatus. What’s at stake is huge, and represents Hawaii’s economic survival. The question is, will Hawaii be ready? Can visitors be made to feel safe making travel plans? What about residents? How too can the travel industry have confidence in preparing to reopen and getting their plans and staffing in place?

With three delays already under the belt, why has Hawaii still not be able to articulate its plan for reopening?

Tourism shareholders continue to voice their concerns about what will be different this time, and just when will the plan be determined and communicated.

Hawaiian Airlines’ Avi Mannis said, “Right now understanding how to get tested is going to be the biggest barrier to people choosing to travel, whether that is locals traveling or visitors.”

The Hawaii Chamber of Commerce CEO said, “We’ve had months to prepare and come up with a comprehensive tourism reopening plan… Setting a date for October 15 is the first step; now we have to make sure that we stay firm to that date. We’ve been told that a little more than half of Hawaii’s businesses can’t reopen until tourism does. We can’t keep moving the goal post when the ball is in the air.”

Today is our next post in a series that examines where we are in preparation to reopen Hawaii travel and what will happen next.

We expect an update from the state later today, and we will let you know as soon as we that happens. Lieutenant Governor and physician Josh Green, the head of Hawaii’s travel testing program, will address questions on reopening. Green is said to have recovered from COVID himself after he believes he acquired it riding in a car with infected staff members.

Questions we’re seeking answers to include the following.

1. Are changes coming to approved pre-testing protocols? We believe that they are. Rapid testing is likely to now be included as an alternative to the NAAT PCR test taken within 72 hours of your Hawaii arrival time. These are cheaper, more readily available, and have about the same degree of accuracy. Those have been approved for emergency use during COVID, but have not had formal FDA approval. Last week, Lt. Gov. Green said he wants two test alternatives, the 72 hour PCR one as well as dual antigen tests taken both (72 hours) pre and (72 hours) post-travel. Antigen tests provide more rapid results at a lower cost.

Then to your comments. Chadd just said “They have had months to figure this out. This opening was originally slated for August 1. So why now are they still trying to figure this out? This is very frustrating being a small business owner. Obviously, the tests are only good for that day it was taken. This will not stop the virus but limit its transmission. There are at least 2 fast tests (15-minute results) that are close to as accurate as the main one being used now and could be used at the airports upon departure or arrival. There are other countries and states using these now. Why is our government so slow in figuring this out?”

 2. Tests, tests, tests. Many other details need to be addressed including availability, timeliness, partnerships, locations, and more? We continue to await any news on the touted testing partnerships with CVS and Kaiser. You’ve nailed this in hundreds of comments already. It does not appear that either CVS or Kaiser has a travel testing plan in place at this time. Will they soon? We hope so, but just don’t know. Also, who needs to be tested, including small children starting at what age? There has also been no mention of international arrivals.

On that, commenter David M. just said he “Called CVS in California today and they’re clueless on a rapid COVID test. One rep said they’re not testing now for “travel.” Keith also commented: “Right now local CVS pharmacies have no idea what we are talking about in regards to testing for travel purposes. CVS testing as it stands now still has a 3-7 day wait time for testing results.”

3. What if I get the wrong type of test?  It is travelers’ responsibility to confirm they have taken the correct test. What happens if you inadvertently take a non-approved test? Given that there is still no plan for testing on arrival in Hawaii, the result could be returning to the mainland or entering a 14-day quarantine. Is this possible? The issue requires rethinking, clarity, and communication.

4. What are the plans for the removal of the current interisland quarantine? That has not been previously mentioned in planning for October 15. It could happen either before or in concert with that date.

5. Will Hawaii’s plans be adequately scalable to manage both pre-tested and quarantining visitors starting next month? It has been much easier to manage thus far, with only essential flights operating. And won’t be the case when a full range of flights begin operating. That includes airport operations, as well as contact tracing and management.

Please let us know your questions, thoughts, and concerns. Mahalo!

Beat of Hawaii © photo at Kee Beach Kauai.

66 thoughts on “Hawaii Under Pressure With 3 Weeks to Reopening”

  1. Has there been any discussion on acceptable test providers? I can get a test from a military hospital lab for free with results in two hours.

  2. Please stop making excuses. The state’s governing bodies are shortsighted & poor leaders.The state of hawaii has received over 8 billion dollars of federal funding and over 68 million in grants as a result of COVID. To date hundreds of millions remain unspent and should have been used to protect its tourism industry and economy from the very beginning. You need to solicit expertise from those who succeeded in opening (and many are islands).

  3. We took a nasopharyngeal test at UMC in UNLV’s Cashman center a day before we flew back. Testing was performed using the Thermo Fisher 7500 PCR Covid-19 assay approved for emergency use and not FDA approved. Results were returned electronically within 12 hours. We would have still had to quarantine even if Hawai’i travel had opened in September 1 because its not state approved. Why is this test not one that would be approved compared to the CVS test? From what I could find online, it seems like it’s the same or a similar test! They will bill an admin fee to your insurance ($200) but they waived ours because our insurance told us they won’t cover it. Nevada DOH also has free testing for non symptomatic people.

  4. I believe most people will skip going to Hawaii until Quarantine is completely off the table. There is too many hurdles and problems that can come up.

    Problem # 1. Getting results back in a reasonable time. Sure, getting the test 72 hours prior to traveling is easy. But in California it’s taking 10-14 days to get results back. So you land in Hawaii and have to be in Quarantine for possibly 10-11 more days. If you”re staying two weeks, that means
    you’ll have 3 whole days max to travel around and enjoy Hawaii.

    Problem # 2. What happens if you get the results of your test while your in Hawaii under quarantine and it’s positive. You can’t come out of Quarantine. Hotel flights, resort fees are $1000 of dollars. Why would anyone risk that kind of money in these situations?

    I think tourism in Hawaii will be crippled until quarantine is off the tables. It’s a hard spot to be in.

  5. We just booked our tickets today from SLC to LIH, flying out on 10/24.
    I am hoping it’s true and the reopening will happen. I have angst about
    getting the correct test and getting the results prior to arriving. How
    will it work? Who knows? I’m crossing my fingers!
    Sandy M.

  6. Aloha
    My name is jill. My husband and I have lived in Maui many years but now reside in Costa Rica. We hope to return to Maui par time and then full time. We are planing a trip to Maui on Nov 6. Dave will be having a medical procedure there as well. Since our flight requires an overnight stay in LA we may have difficulty getting a COVID PCR test within the time frame required. I did read we might be able to get 30 min COVID 19 Antigen FIA in LA where we will be overnight. Do you know if this is acceptable? Or who I must contact?

  7. I have not seen or heard any mention of the quarantine exception as it applies to Hawaii residents who are returning from the mainland. I don’t know why it would not be available to those of us who wish to travel to the mainland and avoid quarantine when we get back but I have not seen a single mention if how it applies to residents. Do you know?

  8. Aloha,
    Hawaii is one of the healthiest places to live with all the sunshine and fresh air. We’ve had many cases due to the increased testing but few deaths. Just open up already, and bring back our economy before there will be no economy left for our beautiful islands. Life is a risk, we must take that risk to keep Hawaii alive and prosperous.

  9. the authorities are considering another lockdown under the specter of increasing spread. considering the track record of leadership in hawaii, things dont look very promising

  10. My questions are:

    –what happens if you test negative before flying to Hawaii? and then test positive once you’re there??? Are you put into quarantine on the island ou fly back info? if you’re in a group, is the whole group quarantined? or are you sent back to states?

    –are the restaurants, businesses, tourist sights open?

  11. Yep, we want the Tourists to return, Yet there is still No clear answers as to the Correct Test, and where the Mainlanders can get the Correct Test within the 72 hours of a flight. A reliable Rapid test that does not cost $200? The NBA, and other Pro sports seem to have some sort of access to these tests?
    Some of Us tourists have several thousand dollars invested in our trips and we are left hanging as to how to approach our future trips.
    Every time I read a new post on your sight I get more confused.
    Mahalo,Deb P.

    1. Hi Deb.

      We have no choice but to await clarification from the state. Hopefully that comes very soon.


  12. Which is the correct covid test to take. I have reservations for November 6th i want to make sure we get the right one

  13. The NAAT test hasn’t been used by anyone since last Feb/March, you can’t find it. It’s been replaced by the PCR. When Ige first put the travel/law into place, in the first page of the document/law it said NAAT test, later in the document it was altered and on about page 23 it said any covid test done by any government approved lab (CLIA) could be used. That should have opened the door to all kinds of covid testing within a government lab. However, most people still use the NAAT when talking about testing in conjunction with Hawaii. It’s also possible that the law has been changed again however, not likely. As I understand it, the Antigen test (spit test) was to take about two months to get into circulation, that was about as of Sept 1. I’m surely hoping for the latter.
    There’s one other good size problem and that’s the airlines. All of the airlines that service Hawaii have said that come Oct 1, that they will be making large cuts in flights and employees. What that means is that if there are not enough people on that flight the airline could cancel the flight out from under you or at least change your flight. Certainly, Hawaii reopening will be helpful with the flight problems.
    I think tonight Josh Green is going to talk about upcoming Hawaiian travel plans. I’m surely hopeful.
    Mahalo Guys

    1. Hi Roy.

      Thanks for your many comments. Yes we are all looking for the answers to how this will work.


    2. au contraire. i have a naat test scheduled 72 hrs ahead of my flight with the results available on line in 48 -72 hours.

      google[ rapid naat test for travel ] i have to pay for it but am happy to do so. hoping for a negative test result too.

      there’s always that!! aloha. the best to us all as we emerge!

  14. aloha guys, I didn’t read this yet, but….Facebook Live talk today at 5 with Josh Green to answer travel questions.

  15. The big question is, what does it mean to “be ready”? Is just getting there the only goal? What about enjoying the islands and everything it has to offer? Restaurants? Shops? Beaches? Excursions?

    Allowing us to get there is only the first step.

  16. Aloha Guys thanks again for the reopen series.

    I hope that I’m not breaking the rules, but on Costco Travel they’re not excepting any Hawaii bookings prior to November 15th. That tells me large Hawaiian resorts have no confidence in state governments October 15th reopen date.

    I’ve been told that it takes 30 to 45 days to get a large resort up and running, plus most resorts will start at about 50 percent capacity and slowly work towards 100 percent.

    On the plus side that means less volume of tourist to begin with reopening giving airport staff time to workout the kinks before the really travel crush starts.

    1. Hi Richard.

      Thanks. Costco also doesn’t want to deal with the repercussions of changes should anything go awry. Can’t blame them for that. We’ll see what is ready to open in mid-October, but we suspect more will be than people fear. Of course, the sooner the state provides the missing details, the more confident travel stakeholders will feel getting ready.


      1. Not going to happen. You are misleading your readership and we locals who depend on tourism for our livelihood. The lieutenant governor is clearly playing politics. As for our governor … he is simply grossly incompetent. That was clearly proven during the DPRK missile fiasco. Nothing will happen before the election. And if Trump is indisputably re-elected … expect a Ukrainian style color election to happen in the good old US of A. And under such a scenario restarting what was once known as the Hawaii Visitor Industry will simply not appear on anybody’s radar. If Joe Biden and the Democratic wrecking crew are ensconced in Washington then Great Resent will continue forward. And reviving tourism in Hawaii it’s not part of the reset. you really need to take a look at Civil Beat once in awhile to get an idea how these would be revolutionist feel about Hawaii’s number one industry.

    2. Why not employ Costco for pretravel testing?
      Everyone has Costco near them on mainland and Oahu…and they have pharmacists…
      And they love mass production at a reasonable cost. They live off memberships so this would boost enrollment.
      CVS is clueless so far here NY and Kaiser is not on East Coast to my knowledge. Why were these chosen, and now clueless after months of Hawaii announcing partnetships.
      My plane flies November 7th…fingdrs crossed but thousands on the table.

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