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Visitors Cancel as Governor Won’t Change Rules + Who Pays Quarantine?

Update as of 12/16/20. Questions arose in an interview between Governor Ige and reporters that took place on Friday. Plus, we have received hundreds of more comments at Beat of Hawaii (BOH) from those who have canceled or are considering canceling Hawaii travel due to the uncertainties of complying with the Safe Travels rules.

Despite wide-ranging requests from stakeholders, the governor now appears distinctly disinclined to change at least one of the two most criticized aspects of the current Safe Travels rules. Read on for the details in seven key areas, together with our take. No one knows right now what the governor is thinking. Even his friend, Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell, can’t seem to find out.

1. Remove 14-day when through no fault of a visitor, results from Hawaii trusted testing partners do not arrive in time for Hawaii arrival.

BOH says: Not happening.

Ige said for the first time that he does not intend to change the current plan. As you recall, without buy-in from stakeholders, Ige already changed it once, from visitors being able to get out of quarantine when results arrived to now being forced to quarantine 14-days or return to the mainland.

Lori, a Beat of Hawaii reader, just said, “After doing everything right with Safe Travels and crossing our fingers, we were sitting in the parking lot of airport with bags ready to check when no results came (95hrs it took!), and we were forced to cancel 1 hour before flight… We were so disappointed, exhausted, stressed, despondent, and in shock. Some things were refunded, and some things were not, and for no fault of our own!”

But questions remain about the state’s own trusted testing partners whom we are talking about, for tests taken under the terms both the visitors and the trusted partners agreed to. This sends a very confusing message to visitors. The state is using the threat of a 14-day quarantine as a way to try to stop those visitors who haven’t received results before boarding from even trying to come to Hawaii. That since only the federal government is actually capable of controlling interstate travel requirements, including requiring testing.

In rambling comments, the governor said that the state is stuck with those who don’t get results in time and that sometimes, it is becoming impossible to find various accommodations for those people. Ige said those awaiting test results might arrive late in the evening. That is why Ige said he originally changed the policy.

2. Expand the 72 hour pre-travel test period to 96 hours.

BOH says: Unknown.

Hawaii’s COVID testing leader, physician, and Lt. Gov. Josh Green wants the pre-travel test window expanded from the current 72 hours to 96 hours. That, in addition to a second test 3 to 5 days after arrival. It appeared that change was going to happen, but now Green says that he doesn’t think any change is imminent and there has been no word from the governor on this.

3. Reduce quarantine from 14 to 10 days.

BOH says: Yes, that is pending. 

Last week Hawaii’s Attorney General said that an announcement reducing the quarantine period from 14 to 10 days would occur this week. When that happens, the quarantine period, when applicable, will be reduced from 14 days to 10 days. Of course, that is of no use to Hawaii visitors whose vacations are on average 7 days.

4. Testing on arrival.

BOH says: Unknown. 

At this time, only the Big Island requires testing on arrival. But others want that as well. Questions include whether the state has adequate access to that testing. For some reason, this just keeps dragging on.

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell, Lieutenant Governor Josh Green, and the county mayors are all in favor of the on-arrival test option. So too is The House Committee on COVID and Hawaii Mega Hawaii-insurer HMSA, which said, “And if you’re negative, you simply stay in quarantine until you get your trusted partner test. And if that’s also negative, then you’re released from quarantine.” Adding to that list is the Hawaii Health Department’s Director, who supports implementing a second test 3 to 5 days after arrival. The largest health care provider in Hawaii agrees with this plan, as well.

5. Quarantine between pre-travel and on-arrival testing?

BOH says: Unlikely.

What rules will be associated with on-arrival testing? In other words, if Ige says (as he has) that the second test will not reduce the mandatory quarantine, we assume those tests will only be for those who have negative test results presented on arrival.

There is no indication of any upcoming change that would implement a quarantine period prior to the second test results.

6. Allow for modifications to Safe Travel on island by island basis.

BOH says: Unlikely.

Ige has made it clear that he is disinclined to allow the Safe Travels program to be defined differently on an island-by-island basis to keep rules clear and simpler. On the other hand, Kauai has opted out of Safe Travels and has a mandatory 14-day quarantine for all arrivals.

7. Who pays for quarantine?

BOH says: Unclear.

In theory, arrivals who do not have test results who wish to remain in Hawaii will be under a 14-day quarantine. Ige mentioned in the latest interview that when visitors say they can’t afford it and thus refuse to pay, the state is responsible for paying for all of those expenses. Interesting dilemma.

In that regard, commenter Paul said, “I have an Airbnb rental for 12 days. If I test positive at the airport after arrival and have to quarantine, am I correct in understanding that I can’t quarantine at my rental? How does one find quarantine lodging at that point–does the state help/assign, or are you on your own? Is the cost prohibitive (it doesn’t seem like you would have much leverage at that point)?”

Great question, Paul.

388 thoughts on “Visitors Cancel as Governor Won’t Change Rules + Who Pays Quarantine?”

  1. We are health providers and will have been fully vaccinated on arrival in Feb (already got the first one!). Please, does anyone know if there are plans to alter the testing requirements for people who can prove vaccination? It’s not that we mind testing, but with the risk of untimely results etc it just seems unwise to travel to Hawaii this year if we have to do it under the current testing/quarantine rules.

  2. If anyone gets the Wall Street Journal, in today’s Personal Journey section of travel and entertainment, there is a long article about airlines betting on Covid tests, and positive remarks about Hawaii’s testing program and hospitalizations cut in half after the testing program started (except it does mention Kauai opted out even with good numbers) and the future of testing being airlines are the ones to administers tests.

  3. Reading all these rules and regulations to travel over to Hawaii for our special needs daughters 40th Birthday is turning out to be a great disappointment. We have made arrangements but feel extreme pressure to not go. Just trying to find the testing partners in Idaho has been great challenge, then the costs for everyone and the possible cost of more. Too much to deal with.

  4. I and my husband got our test done but not from a trusted site( negative results) however we were still Quarantine, we have been here for 4 days and we will cut our honeymoon short and go home, I don’t think we will be coming back in the near or far future. I have been coming here for many years, I think it’s time to go some where else and spend my money.

    1. Sheila, I’m sorry this was a honeymoon cut short for you. However, Hawaii has been very clear with widespread information on every platform for months about ONLY trusted partners are acceptable. I am surprised you expected different results.

    2. “but not from a trusted site … however we were still Quarantine”

      One of these things leads directly to the other.

  5. My question does not concern getting TO the Big Island but rather getting OUT for our return trip. When we arrived here all the gate benches etc were used to create the maze to get through to the post flight COVID test area. Can anyone give me any advice as to what to expect flying out via Alaska Airlines. TSA check go smoothly. Bag check smooth? Agriculture check the same as past several years? Any help, suggestions with outbound flights would be greatly appreciated.


    1. We just got back to the mainland on Saturday and had no issues. Everything was pretty much the same, other than social distancing and mask requirements. The lack of a crowd made for no lines and no problems.

      1. Thanks. I found pretty much the same thing. In fact, it was actually easier than in times past. The newly opened facility at the airport certainly helps.

  6. My wife and I have a trip planned in February, like most years, now we are at a loss concerning what to do. Where can we get real information? Do we risk $8,000 or just cancel and let the leaders of Hawaii reap the consequences of their stubbornness?

  7. We had to cancel our trip in March. This was a yearly trip. We won’t even try in 2021 with the restrictions I am seeing. The worst is that it changes daily. We can make no plans under your current policies. At our ages Hawaii is probably off the table for the foreseeable future and we will have to find another vacation place. So sad.

  8. I never write comments. In fact, this is my very first one. I realized I owe it to the BOH fam to post. BOH has been very helpful in allowing us to come to Hawaii. This is my experience. My family scheduled to come here in May, after all the covid stuff and rules changed we had to rebook 5 times but I was determined to get here. Just got here Dec 13. This is how I did it.

    1) Only booked things I could cancel or get refunded for. (car, hotel)

    2) Flew on airline that would give me last minute cancelation without penalty (southwest airlines)

    3) Flowed the news everyday since October. BOH especially. I signed up for BOH to get emails!

    4) Tested through Vault. Carefully reading the threats of successful people with this testing partner. (writing stat Hawaii on everything. Envelope,testing package, box it came in)

    5) Changed my arrival day from Tuesday to Sunday. (If arriving on Tues, or Wed test may not come back in time because NO mail on Sunday.)

    6) Uploaded my results on Hawaii travel site and printed out hard copies of test and QR codes.

    We made it here without any problems. From testing to results with Vault was about 36 hours for everyone in family of 5.

    The testing when we arrived in KONA was a joke. Too many people. They tested us and let us leave before results and said they would call us back if it was positive. Really! They barely swabbed my nostrils. Anyways follow the threads, stay hooked up with the Beat of Hawaii and it will be all good

    1. Hi Troy.

      Thanks so much for taking the time to write your first comment. Others have reported good results with Vault testing except for the UPS issue that caused you to change your flight date. They have also been responsive to our question, which we take favorably.


  9. My opinion to this is expand the protesting to a week…travelers get tested, they wait for result 2-4 days, and if negative, travel. No quarantine is required when they arrive to the islands. Hotels enforce a process of daily screening travelers for symptoms. Travelers continue to follow CDC guidelines and individual business’s Covid 19 established processes.

  10. Since Quest Diagnostics pulled out as a safe travel partner does that mean my 11/02/2020 prepaid test fees of $240 won’t be accepted at the airport during December or beyond?

  11. I’m wondering why anyone would even want to attempt visiting Hawaii (an expensive travel destination that takes more planning than most other states to visit) during such an uncertain time. Yes, it’s gorgeous and people want to get away from their cold climates, cabin fever, etc., but island bound travelers need to be prepared to accept responsibility for their travel plans and the ever changing nature of Covid rules and delays. I’m sure the Hawaiian economy would love to have our vacation dollars as much as we’d like to spend them, but let’s be reasonable in our expectations of the current global situation. I’ve never been to Hawaii and we are planning to go, but not until things are more certain. Take care and make good choices, people.

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