“Shut it down”. Hawaii reopens to travelers from the US mainland without quarantine in just over a week, provided they bring a recent negative covid-19 test result. But the drama to get to this point has been substantial, particularly in Kauai and outer islands.
Amid flaring social and economic tensions, Hawaii pushed back numerous previous reopening dates as it explored testing options, and not all counties are on board with the new plans.
Kauai’s Mayor was among the first to request the ability from Hawaiian Governor David Ige to add additional layers of safety, aiming to quarantine travelers upon arrival onto the island using the ‘resort bubble’ program, before a second covid-19 test would be taken. That request has now been quashed.
Hawaii Shuts Down Kauai’s Resort Bubble
The timing was peculiar. When Hawaii announced the return of quarantine free travel, Kauai announced a resort bubble program, which would confine all tourist arrivals to their hotel or resort, with electronic monitoring.
Kauai then announced plans to ignore the ‘no quarantine’ plans, and force all travelers arriving on Kauai to quarantine for 3 days, before taking a second test, at which point they’d be ‘sprung’ from their obligation to remain on resort grounds.
The plan from Kauai Mayor Derek Kawakami required approval from Hawaiian Governor David Ige, and the Governor has now told Mayor Kawakami and other local officials to scrap their additional covid-19 plans. Quarantine free travel will go ahead for arrivals into Hawaii, including Kauai, from October 15th onward. At least, for now.
Responding to the news, Kauai Mayor Derek Kawakami remarked…
While this news is disappointing, we have said since day one that we must be flexible and ready to adapt to our ever-changing environment in order to keep our community safe. Today is no different.
We will keep moving forward and utilize our resources to help protect our residents… Our proposed pilot was intended to augment the state’s pre-travel testing program. Our county administration has been clear that a single pre-arrival testing program alone does not provide the needed level of protection for our Kauai community.”Derek Kawakami, Mayor, Kauai
Kauai is said to have already ordered 15,000 covid-19 testing kits in anticipation of their ‘resort bubble’ plans being approved, which must now be repurposed for other use. Other mayors are also rebelling against plans, using their platform to express concern with the program and even potentially opt out, like Big Island.
Hawaii Travel Goes Ahead As Planned
The news may be controversial in Kauai, but potential visitors now have their trips back on track, without fear of ever changing restrictions, with the exception of Big Island, on the news that Mayor Kim plans to opt out.
A 14 day quarantine remains for intra-island travel, but those landing in Honolulu who do not leave the airport before connecting onward will be exempt from the restriction. Further island hopping would result in 14 days of quarantine.
Hawaii created much confusion during numerous pushbacks to quarantine free travel reopening dates, and a new minefield of myriad rules between each country is seen a step too far, with the economy reeling from thousands of job losses.
Hawaii travel will go ahead on October 15th without the need to quarantine, provided visitors obtain a recent negative covid-19 test. Airlines including United, Hawaiian and Alaska plan to assist visitors with rapid testing access prior to flight, at a cost.
Visitors to Kauai and other counties will be able to enjoy the Hawaiian islands from day one, without electronic monitoring bracelets. With most open on the islands and fewer people traveling, it could be your best trip to Hawaii yet.