As Hawaii Visitors Returned: What We've Learned Together.

Omicron Already in Hawaii: These Big Travel Changes On Table

Yesterday, the Hawaii Department of Health announced the first confirmed and three suspected Omicron variant cases in Hawaii and said it expects there are more cases here that remain to be identified. “This isn’t reason for panic, but it is reason for concern. It’s a reminder the pandemic is ongoing. We need to protect ourselves by getting vaccinated, wearing masks, distancing as best we can and avoiding large crowds.” — Hawaii DOH.

The person infected is a Honolulu resident with moderate symptoms who is unvaccinated and previously had COVID. With no history of travel reported, the case is considered community spread.

What this means for Hawaii visitors.

Below is a list of things on the table for Hawaii travel specifically and for domestic travel overall. Until now, all recent changes related to travel have been for international arrivals to the US, but that is likely to change. Because of Omicron, rules were tightened this week to require testing within 24-hours of the departure time of international flights to the US. That is true for all passengers arriving in the country.

Will testing of all passengers, vaccinated or not, occur?

The answer is maybe and it is growing more likely, with that possibility confirmed yesterday by the White House. Press secretary Jen Psaki was asked whether testing and vaccine requirements would be applied to all domestic flights. She replied that “nothing is off the table.”

Regarding Hawaii, it remains unclear whether the state can or will attempt to move on its own without the federal government in terms of requiring that all passengers be tested, whether vaccinated or not. Until now, only a very small percentage of cases have been related to visitor travel, but a significant number have been returning residents. This is a new situation with Omicron, undoubtedly requiring new rules.

Could a vaccination validity period be on the table?

Some countries have already begun specifying a duration following vaccination during which travelers are considered fully vaccinated. Israel says that is six months. European countries are considering setting a maximum validity of nine months. We don’t know what is being planned in the US, but it is likely that something will change.

Will boosters be required?

The definition of fully vaccinated could change. It isn’t clear with this issue, whether that will need to move nationally first, or whether Hawaii can again move in its own direction in relation to Safe Travels rule modifications. Hawaii still has a quarantine requirement but there are exemptions for those either fully vaccinated, or PCR-tested per its strict Safe Travels rules.

What about Hawaii’s 3-day testing rule.

Since the US now requires that tests be within 1-day of travel for international arrivals, it appears plausible that Hawaii could move in a similar direction. The concern here is in part how onerous it might be for visitors to obtain tests in a timely way, especially as this new Omicron variant infiltrates the country and requires more overall testing capacity.

Could the “trusted partners” requirement for Hawaii testing change too?

At present Hawaii requires that travelers obtain PCR type tests only from approved (“trusted partner”) vendors. We don’t envision that condition changing at this time.

How to be prepared.

1. When booking your Hawaii vacation, looks for and select options for Hawaii flights, accommodations, and activities where you can cancel or change your reservations with little or no cost, should it become necessary.

2. For expenses that are not flexible, trip insurance with a specific cancel-for-any reason clause is an excellent idea. Other trip policies (not cancel for any reason) will most likely cover you for medical including actually having COVID, but not for wanting to cancel due to fear of getting COVID. Carefully read policy terms and conditions before buying.

3. Also consider what you would do if COVID testing becomes a requirement for Hawaii travel. Where would you go? That is in the event that testing becomes required even for those fully vaccinated.

54 thoughts on “Omicron Already in Hawaii: These Big Travel Changes On Table”

  1. Talk about over reacting. The “science experts” all say that Omicron is a weak variant with mild symptoms. Viruses don’t want to kill the host so they mutate in to new weaker strains that can be spread easily but are completely survivable, you know, like the common cold. We leave our house by 3:30 AM CT for our 4 leg flight that arrives in Kona @6PM PT. No way will a 24 hour test be possible. We are fully vaccinated w/booster. Once again, punish the visitor, not those responsible for the spread.

  2. I am so OVER all this crap. I had Covid last December. I recently had the antibody test (natural immunity) and I tested positive for Covid antibodies, almost a year after having the virus. Our government, and Hawaii totally ignores those of us that have natural immunity and still wants us to take the ‘jab’ even though it doesn’t work and you can still get, and spread, Covid. I own 3 timeshares, 2 on the Big Island and 1 on Kauai that I have not be able to use since this started.

    1. Stop spreading lies. The vaccines work very well and prevent almost all severe illness and death. And yes, you still need it if you had Covid already. Also, just because you have some antibodies doesn’t mean you’re fully protected. Antibody levels wane with time. If you cared about other people, you’d get the vaccine. Why can’t you go to your time share? You can get tested and go without quarantine. It’s not that hard. I did it many times before the vaccine exemption in July.

      1. JasonG,
        We’ve got to stop accusing each other of lies.
        The reason everything is so confused is because info has often been contradictory and nonsensical. The Lancet and the CDC have published studies showing that the vaccinated can transmit similar viral loads to the unvaccinated.

  3. This really concerns me from a completely selfish standpoint! We are flying to Maui in 3 days. We are fully vaccinated, but the 6-month mark from vaccinate occurs while we are in Hawaii. If they do change to require a booster within 6 months, or require testing for vaccinated persons, how many days notice will they give?

  4. I appreciate Hawaii doing such thoughtful work in their attempt to keep locals and visitors safe and healthy. For those whose comments are sarcastic and nasty, I am certain they would not be happy if they contracted Covid while here!

  5. Exactly. Hawaii is absolutely ridiculous. Their economy will continue to decline. So sad. And what about older people who have never used the interne?

  6. I use to go to hawaii every year for a week or 2. My dad and other relatives a month. They wont go anymore because they are in their mid 70’s and early 80’s all vaccinated but said it’s to confusing. They still have flip phones never used internet. So sad.

  7. Thank you for the updates on travel to Hawaii. Continue to follow this as I am traveling in January to Maui.

  8. I traveled to Hawaii in Sept. Went the extra step of getting tested 72 hrs before flight, am fully vaccinated. Hawaii should require 24 testing require all businesses have hand sanitizers at entrances monitor temps. Protect your residents they are there 365 days not a week or two at a time.

  9. No travel restrictions please. Do you want to tank Hawaii’s economic conditions to the ground?

    The symptoms for Omicron are mild. People recover from it.

    1. My wife and I are planning a trip to Hawaii in January.We own property on the big Island and travel back and forth.Keep us up to date on safe travels.Mahalo

  10. I don’t plan to travel anywhere within the islands or to anywhere abroad until everything goes back to how it was in 2019.

  11. I’m planning on coming to Kauai from Canada in January. I’ve read conflicting information about requirements for testing. Do I need a PCR test or is an antigen test ok? I know that it has to be 24 hours before.

    1. The site has stated that international travelers must only follow CDC (federal) guidelines for entry to the country, and that Hawaii’s travel rules will not apply. Therefore, an antigen test within 24 hrs plus proof of full vaccination will suffice.

      Note that if you have any connections in the US, then travel to Hawaii, you will need to follow Hawaii’s rules as you’ll be considered a domestic traveler, like taking a PCR test from a Trusted Testing Partner within 72 hrs

  12. I propose that all residents of Hawaii must be fully vaccinated and have a negative PCR test 72 prior to arriving in any of the other 49 states. They must also fill out a health question sure and digitally upload all information on a new Safe Mainland Pass. Let’s see how they like being treated like lepars as the mainlanders are when they come to Hawaii.

    1. Thanks. Hawaii residents have the same travel requirements when when we are returning too the islands from anywhere. It’s a way to keep residents and visitors safe in the islands.

      1. Residents have the option of ‘self quarantine’ aka come and go as you please once you land. No one makes sure they go directly home and STAY THERE until their time is up. No, the residents are not treated the same. Visitors who choose NOT to be vaccinated and tested must quarantine at very expensive hotels and foot the bil or GO BACK HOME.

  13. From Eu direct flight doesn’t exists. If we want to avoid caranteen the only possibility is (for unvaccinated child-9 year’s) to have trusted traveler partner PCR test.Am i right? In Eu such place doesn’t exists so the only chance which we have that she must do this test at airport during flight change on Us mainland. Is there any (trusted travel partner) exception for international travelers? Thx

    1. Hi Stan.

      There is no such exception. For non-direct international travel, Hawaii requires compliance with Safe Travels rules.


  14. Does a 3 year old child need a Covid test prior to travel to Hawaii from Alaska in December 2021? They are not eligible for vaccine?

  15. “I think given what we know about the transmissibility and a likely transmissibility advantage of Omicron … once it gets in there, it will likely, under the radar screen, be spreading no matter what you do to keep people out or not.”
    – Anthony Fauci, 3 Dec 2021, FOX NEWS.

    Given this, one might inquire what Hawaii’s travel restrictions are actually designed to accomplish?

    A Day Late and A Dollar Short.

  16. Community spread by definition means that there are at least 2 cases in Hawaii.
    If the person who was identified never traveled, someone else must have brought this variant to the State to infect him (unless the variant developed in several regions at the dame time


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