Hawaii will reopen to tourists in 2020, we think. They keep changing their minds…
Destinations around the world are trying to find the difficult balance between ensuring safety and avoiding second waves of covid-19 infection, all while protecting the vital commerce, jobs and businesses that come along with visitors through travel. In some countries where tourism is a main employer, the balance is even more difficult to find.
Hawaii thinks it’s found the balance
Plans have come, gone, and changed again quite a few times, but the latest iteration points to a welcome return for visitors from October 15th, for those willing to bring along a recent negative covid-19 test. Many airlines are assisting with access to rapid covid-19 testing.
Hawaii has made it fairly clearly that it’s not currently looking for visitors, via the 14 day mandatory quarantine policy, with strict enforcement for all, even apparently including Mark Zuckerberg.
That’s set to change on October 15th, 2020, when quarantine plans are to be dropped, but only for travelers willing to bring a negative covid-19 test. Travelers will also be exempted from Intra-island 14 day quarantine restrictions, provided they do not leave the airport in Honolulu upon arrival.
Hawaii’s Complicated Reopening Saga
The island paradise originally proposed an August 1st reopening to travelers bearing a recent negative covid-19 test certificate, but then quickly fanned the flames of those announcements, with news statements that the date would be postponed by a month.
Authorities were said to be harnessing plans to ensure safe arrival facilities and any testing capacity needed, but have since flip flopped, instead demanding all testing be done in advanced of travel on the mainland.
Entry to Hawaii will be subject to all travel restrictions laid out by the United States, which for now, excludes most Europeans. There may be additional restrictions unique to Hawaii, but the same rules apply for eligibility that would apply in New York.
What Sort Of Testing Will Be Required To Visit Hawaii?
Governor Ige, despite the setbacks has been very clear on what visitors will need to avoid quarantine, and a recent negative covid-19 test taken within 72 hours of arrival is a key piece of that. The order applies to everyone over the age of 5, though children under 5 are understood to be exempted from testing requirements.
United, Hawaiian and Alaska are all offering pre-flight testing access, with prices ranging from $99 to $250 for a rapid test. United will offer tests at the airport in San Francisco.
Failure to produce a negative result, or scanning a temperature of over 100.4 Farenheit will more than likely land you in the 14 day quarantine, or until a negative result can be produced at the visitors expense.
Inter island travel is already once again possible, allowing people to move from Kauai to Honolulu and beyond. Restaurants, hotels, bars, beaches, shops and other facilities are open, but not all. A large number of attractions reliant on tourism have chosen not to reopen until a flow of visitors returns.
Intra-island travel does require 14 day quarantine, but visitors arriving from the mainland and connecting without leaving the airport are exempt.
Do you need to wear a mask in Hawaii right now? Short answer: yes. Most businesses require visitors to don a face covering and maintain all social distancing and hygiene rules. The rules apply to all indoor spaces, and also any outdoor spaces where social distancing isn’t possible.
As to the restaurants themselves, don’t expect Hawaii to offer business as usual, at least not yet.
Only circa 30% of all restaurants have chosen to reopen, and some but not all, are only offering take out. This leaves a catch-22 for the government, which must balance businesses failing daily with needs to stop second or third waves of covid-19 infections. So far, polls in Hawaii suggests locals aren’t ready to welcome visitors back yet, at any cost.
Bars in certain parts of Hawaii are also now being told to stop serving liquor at midnight, in response to growing concern over lack of social distancing for gatherings after this time. Basically, people get drunk and forget they’re not supposed to be too close to someone, so measures are being taken. If your plan was to come to the islands to party until well after midnight, you may want to put those plans on hold.
Best Ways To Plan Hawaii Trips Right Now
Airlines and hotels are offering more flexibility than usual, even on the cheapest deals. If you’re aiming to visit the Hawaiian Islands in 2020, it may require some flexibility, given the nature of the changing reopening dates.
Be sure to book travel with a hotel or airline which offers fee free changes, and or cancellation for a full refund, and be sure to confirm your ability to access a valid covid-19 test before booking any non-refundable plans.
If you play the points game, that’s absolutely the best way to book Hawaii right now. Booking with points allows potential visitors to get something locked down, without the stress of laying down cash. If you need to cancel, most points programs allow you to get all your points back, so long as you’re cancelling at least a week in advance. Happy travels…