Today is the reopening day for Hawaii Tourism, which has been shut down for the past 7 months. It has elements of great excitement, for both visitors to return and for residents to be able to resume working. At the same time, there are elements of fear of the unknown that start from health concerns for all. Visitors are worried about the airport and flight experience during the pandemic. And residents here on the Garden Island are concerned that with more visitors, will come more cases. It is less than an ideal situation but one we find ourselves in nonetheless.
Kauai, together with Oahu and Maui will receive visitors with one required 72-hour pre-travel test.
But there is a catch here for Kauai which is Emergency Rule 19 that you will want to read about below.
Then, after arriving in Hawaii, all of the islands will provide various secondary post-arrival testing scenarios. We’ll circle back to those later as final details are ironed out. On Maui and Kauai, these are set to be 72 hours after arrival and are to be voluntary. On the Big Island, a different scenario is unfolding where visitors will receive a second, no-cost, mandatory test, directly on arrival, to avoid quarantine.
And, on Oahu (let’s just make this more confusing), Honolulu is looking at developing its own on-arrival testing system. The City and County of Honolulu is working to procure a mobile testing lab at the airport that would be able to conduct up to 10,000 tests a day. This post-arrival test would require arriving passengers to remain in quarantine until they receive negative test results within 1 to 6 hours. Oh, but where will they stay? HNL was never designed with confinement areas other than US customs/immigration.
In reality, Kauai has had virtually no COVID cases.
There are currently no cases on Kauai and the total count so far is 59. That has largely been the result of almost no interisland or mainland arrivals, due to the unavoidable 14-day quarantine. We already wear masks and sanitize regularly, but we’ll be upping that going forward for sure. The mayor said, “We know it’s easy to let our guard down when we’re around family and close friends, but these are the times when wearing our masks and practicing distancing is most important.”
Kauai Mayor’s Emergency Rule 19 is Looming.
This is without question the largest concern for visitors looking forward to their next Kauai vacation. There is a four-tier system we’ve mentioned before, which determines whether tourism will continue to operate, as well as which activities and businesses can remain open.
Starting today, visitors will arrive with the island on a Tier 4 status, which means there are no active virus cases. So long as Kauai remains on Tier 4 or Tier 3 status, which equates to a weekly average of under 5 active cases, visitors can continue to enjoy the island freely.
But what happens if there are more than 5 active cases of COVID on Kauai?
If there are five or more active cases, the island will be either under Tier 1 or Tier 2, both of which prevent visitors from bypassing the 14-day quarantine. Should that occur, it would effectively shut down tourism once again. For things to reopen in that event, a series of criteria would need to be met. It’s complicated.
Prior proposal for mandatory 2nd tests and quarantine quashed.
Previously, Kauai’s mayor had asked for a 3-day post-arrival quarantine followed by a second mandatory test. That was not approved by the state. Governor Ige said Monday that it was now clear to him that any form of quarantine is not acceptable for the resumption of Hawaii tourism.
Kauai, and the other islands, however, are all moving forward with various forms of second tests, without quarantine. The testing is largely based on the types of tests that the islands have procured. At this time, other than the Big Island, tests are to be optional, no-cost to visitors, and the state or counties may even provide incentives to help encourage the additional testing.
Will Kauai visitors put their money and possibly their vacation itself, at risk.
The issue is that should Kauai reestablish a quarantine, it would stop visitors’ ability to come to the island. As another reminder, the typical vacation duration is 7 days, and the quarantine, if needed, would be 14-days. End of travel.
Visitors spend an average of $195 per day per person on a Hawaii vacation, based on 2019 state data. Some quick math says for two people, that’s $2,730, not including airfare. How will the airlines or accommodation providers help visitors financially should quarantine be reestablished? That notwithstanding, who even wants to plan a vacation only to learn, potentially at the last minute, that it isn’t going to happen. Wouldn’t it be safer under those circumstances to just plan for an alternate destination without that incumbent risk?
Regular Joan just added to this discussion. “I just had a friend who has 4 vacation rentals on the island and all 4 future reservations (up through Feb) canceled because of the tier order. No one wants to plan a very expensive vacation and then 2 weeks before has to cancel. Just remember that one household of 5 getting covid could cost the island millions in losses and completely shut down the economy again. There are no more bailouts and rent forgiveness is going away. For a family of 5 and some with no symptoms, is this what you want? Maybe it is.”
Phillip said, “As expected, all this is exceptionally vague, confusing, and a moving target. Thanks to Beat of Hawaii for trying to make sense of all this. The Hawaii government has had weeks and months to get their act together but continues to fail tourists and more importantly the residents. Hard to imagine that many travelers will be willing to put money and time at risk this early in the re-opening process. Like many, I will sit back and see what transpires in the months ahead before deciding if a 2021 Hawaii trip is worth the effort. We wish all good luck in your travel endeavors and prayers to the people of Hawaii. Thanks again Beat of Hawaii for your efforts to try and cut through all the confusion.”
Lastly, Marcel commented, “This is going to be a big failer!! Any agency should give you money back when you book a Hawaii trip and they will test you positive, including rental car and flight tickets. Nobody changed that yet and that’s a big problem!!!”
One way to possibly protect yourself is via Cancel For Any Reason trip insurance.
We’ve mentioned this before. This is specialty coverage, not regular trip insurance, and isn’t something you can usually purchase through an airline or accommodation provider. It does however provide coverage protecting up to 75% of all your non-reimbursable costs, should you cancel for any reason whatsoever up to 48 hours before your trip starts.