This was not what we thought we would be writing about this holiday week. It seems we’re all in the same boat in that regard. Nonetheless, Hawaii travel is about to be upended once again as Covid cases rage here in the islands and globally. Yesterday we had nearly 1,000 new cases, and another 840 today. The governor said that “we are seeing an alarming increase in the number of cases,” while the Dept. of Health Director warned that Hawaii’s limited medical system could be in bad shape.
Yet the governor said nothing substantive to say about Hawaii travel, the state’s economic engine. Ige said merely that he is working with the counties to determine what kind of protocols might need to be implemented to prevent a catastrophic failure of Hawaii’s medical system. “At this point in time, we are not looking to implement any changes (to safe Travels).” He did say with regards to travel, however, that the state is constantly reevaluating changes to testing that may be needed.
The director of Hawaii’s Dept. of Health said that with the increasing prevalence of Omicron in Hawaii, “perhaps the numbers in the hospitals may end up being worse than delta… due to the ease of transmission, we are going to see people ending up in the hospital.”
What this means for Hawaii visitors.
Below is a changing list of what might be about to happen to Hawaii travel and what you can do.
- Hawaii’s 3-day testing doesn’t work – 24-hour testing may be on the horizon.
- Covid tests for all passengers, vaccinated or not?
- Could boosters soon be required for Hawaii travel?
- Vaccination validity periods to be determined.
- Will Hawaii keep “trusted partner” PCR rules for Hawaii testing?
- Could the state take back authority over the counties on Covid matters?
- How to prepare for Hawaii travel now.
Hawaii’s 3-day testing doesn’t work – could 24-hour testing return to the table?
Since the US now requires that tests be within 1-day of travel for international arrivals, it does seem likely that Hawaii would try to move in a similar direction. The concern remains how much of a deterrent 24-hour tests would be, as visitors could find it harder and harder to obtain any tests while Omicron rages and demands more overall testing capacity unrelated to travel.
Covid tests for all passengers, vaccinated or not?
The answer remains maybe. Can Hawaii implement that on its own without a broader federal government policy requiring all passengers to be tested, whether vaccinated or not? There’s been no word from anyone nationally or in the state as cases continue to climb exponentially.
Until now, only a very small percentage of cases have been related to visitor travel, but a significant number have been returning residents. That was reasserted on Friday by the state.
Will boosters soon be required for Hawaii travel?
Yes, that is highly likely. Governor Ige said Friday that “we are following the CDC and looking at what their recommendations are in terms of whether those who have had two doses are fully vaccinated. At this point in time, the number of cases tied to travel is very low.” Hawaii DOH data indicate that the majority of cases are related to residents who have traveled or are community spread.
On this subject too, it remains to be seen if Hawaii moves in its own direction in relation to Safe Travels rule modifications.
Hawaii still has a 10-day quarantine requirement but the vast majority of travelers are using exemptions for those either fully vaccinated, or PCR-tested per its strict Safe Travels rules.
Vaccination validity periods to be determined.
Globally, specifications for the length of time following vaccination during which travelers are considered fully vaccinated are about to be set. Israel says that is six months. European countries are still considering nine months. We don’t know what is being planned in the US, but something will likely change.
Will Hawaii keep “trusted partner” PCR rules for Hawaii testing?
Hawaii still requires that travelers obtain PCR type tests only from approved (“trusted partner”) vendors. We aren’t clear whether that may change. The DOH director did mention on Friday, in this regard, that they are investigating other testing types.
Could the state take back authority over the counties on Covid matters?
Yes, that too is possible. Either it could happen by decree or by consensus. This is not going to be a time when the state will allow each county to act alone.
How to prepare for Hawaii travel.
Keep your cancellation options open. When choosing Hawaii flights, accommodations, and activities, think before buying. Can you cancel or change your reservations with little or no cost if need be?
Continue to consider trip insurance as needed. Travel insurance policies (other than those with specifically purchased cancel for any reason clauses) will most likely cover you for medical including actually having COVID, but not for wanting to cancel due to fear of getting COVID. Read trip insurance policies carefully to know exactly what you are buying.