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Hawaii Issues New Rules for Travelers—Here’s What You Need to Know

By Michelle Baran

Mar 30, 2021

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Effective April 5, out-of-state travelers to Kauai do not have to quarantine as long as they submit to the pretravel testing program.

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Effective April 5, out-of-state travelers to Kauai do not have to quarantine as long as they submit to the pretravel testing program.

The latest on Hawaii’s pretravel testing program and when a quarantine will still be required.

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On October 15, 2020, Hawaii launched its pretravel testing program allowing travelers to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test result to avoid an otherwise mandatory 10-day quarantine. But there have already been numerous updates and changes to the program.

Most notably, after reinstating a 10-day quarantine requirement on December 2 (during which time testing was not accepted in lieu of a quarantine), Kauai is now set to rejoin the state’s pretravel testing program on April 5, 2021. Thus, effective April 5, out-of-state travelers to all Hawaiian islands do not have to quarantine as long as they comply with Hawaii’s pretravel testing program rules.

Hawaii’s pretravel testing program

In order to be able to travel to Hawaii without having to quarantine, out-of-state travelers (ages five and older) arriving in Hawaii must furnish evidence of a negative FDA-approved nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT) result taken within 72 hours of boarding—travelers must have the results with them when they board. Travelers from Canada can also bypass the state’s mandatory quarantine with a negative COVID-19 test result from a lab that has partnered with Air Canada or WestJet.

The only test results that will be accepted for domestic Hawaii arrivals will be those produced by one of these labs or clinics:

  • American Family Care
  • American Samoa Department of Health
  • Atlas Genomics
  • Capstone Clinic
  • Carbon Health
  • CityHealth Urgent Care
  • Clarity Lab Solutions
  • CLEAR (only for Delta and United flights from LAX)
  • Color
  • Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation
  • Costco/AZOVA
  • CVS Health (only through this CVS testing portal)
  • Discovery Health MD
  • DLS Guam
  • Guam Department of Public Health and Social Services
  • GoHealth Urgent Care
  • Kaiser Permanente University Medical Center of Southern Nevada+
  • UC San Diego Health
  • University of Washington Medicine
  • Vault Health
  • Walgreens
  • WestPac Labs
  • XpresCheck

The list is often updated, so be sure to check with the Hawaii State Department of Health for the latest. 

Without the negative test result, passengers arriving from out of state will be subject to a 10-day quarantine.

Travelers to Hawaii must also fill out a mandatory online health application. The digital form is required both for out-of-state arrivals and for interisland travel. Travelers must fill out the form at least 24 hours prior to departure, and once the form is complete they will receive a QR code via email. They can then scan the QR code from their mobile device or from a printed-out version at the airport upon arrival.

Travelers heading to the Big Island from the U.S. mainland could be randomly selected to take a second rapid COVID-19 antigen test upon arrival. These tests are being administered to approximately 25 percent of arrivals and are conducted at no cost to travelers, according to the Hawaii Tourism Authority. The tests are being administered at all three Hawaii island airports: Ellison Onizuka International Airport at Keahole, Waimea-Kohala Airport, and Hilo International Airport. The antigen tests provide results within 15 to 20 minutes. If travelers test negative at the airport, they will not be required to quarantine. If they test positive, they will be required to immediately take a PCR test and quarantine until they receive the results, which are typically available within 36 hours.

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There is also a partial interisland travel quarantine requirement in place. This 10-day quarantine applies to anyone traveling to and between the islands of Kauai, Hawaii, Maui, Molokai, and Lanai. The interisland quarantine does not include interisland travelers arriving on Oahu, and it also does not apply to a layover in Honolulu en route to another island.

“If you have just a layover in Honolulu then the negative test result is good through to your final destination. If your break in Honolulu is more than a layover, then you are captured by the interisland quarantine,” advised the Hawaii State Department of Health on its COVID-19 travel FAQ page.

As for international visitors, per U.S. government restrictions, foreign nationals who have been in China, Iran, South Africa, the European Schengen area, Brazil, the United Kingdom, or Ireland in the previous 14 days will be denied entry into Hawaii. U.S. citizens and permanent residents are exempt.

As of January 26, a new nationwide order mandated by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) requires international arrivals to provide documentation of negative COVID-19 test results procured within three days of their departure to the United States. 

Airlines offering preflight testing to Hawaii travelers

U.S. airlines with service to Hawaii are providing passengers with ample information on testing kits and clinics that satisfy the state’s requirements. United Airlines customers flying to Hawaii now have access to numerous testing options that have been compiled by the airline, including mail-in test kits.

Hawaiian Airlines has an interactive tool on its website to help travelers identify where and how to get tested in any of its North America departure cities. Alaska Airlines provides its customers with COVID-19 testing information as well.

American Airlines is offering preflight COVID-19 testing for customers traveling from Dallas–Fort Worth (DFW) to Hawaii—an at-home test kit provided by LetsGetChecked (with results provided within 48 hours on average) that costs $129, including shipping; in-person testing at a CareNow urgent care location in the Dallas area; or a rapid-result test administered by CareNow at the DFW airport.

Hawaii’s quarantine rule

The 10-day mandatory self-quarantine still applies to those who don’t procure a negative COVID-19 test result. It includes those arriving on private planes as well as commercial aircraft. The quarantine order requires visitors and residents to proceed directly to their designated quarantine location after leaving the airport, where they are to remain for 10 days (or for the duration of their stay in Hawaii, whichever is shorter). For residents, the designated quarantine location should be their home. For visitors, designated quarantine locations would be either their hotel room or vacation lodging.

During self-quarantine, residents and visitors are not to go to any public spaces, including pools, fitness centers, and restaurants.

All visitors and residents arriving at Hawaii’s airports will be asked to complete a State Travel and Health form. On that form they must include the location where they plan to stay if they are required to quarantine. Failure to comply is considered a misdemeanor and is punishable by a fine of up to $5,000 or up to one year of jail time, or both.

Beaches, hotels, and restaurants have reopened with health requirements in place

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Hawaii has moved into its third stage of recovery—the first two were the stay-at-home order, followed by the safer-at-home order. The current stage is called the “act with care” stage. A number of public health and economic factors are considered for how and when the state enters each stage, and the state can also move back to one of its earlier stages if the public health situation requires that step.

During the current phase, all businesses except for larger venues and clubs have been allowed to reopen, including hotels, restaurants, bars, retail stores, shopping malls, and indoor fitness facilities—most with some kind of physical distancing and additional safety measures in place.

The only exception is Honolulu, which has a tiered reopening strategy. As of March 30, it was in Tier 3 (Tier 1 is the strictest and Tier 4 is the most relaxed), meaning that restaurants, zoos, aquariums, museums, and movie theaters are open, and personal care services and gym and fitness activities are allowed.

Beaches on Oahu, Maui, Kauai, and the Big Island are all open. Haleakala National Park is open with sunrise viewings available to be reserved at Recreation.gov. Everyone in Hawaii is asked to wear a face mask, per the CDC recommendation, and those entering any kind of business are required to wear one.

Where to stay in Hawaii

The retro-chic (and pet-friendly) Surfjack Hotel & Swim Club in Waikiki is offering discounted rates to welcome guests back to the islands, take a dip in the pool, indulge in Hawaiian cuisine at the property’s Mahina & Sun’s restaurant, and listen to nightly live music.

10 Best Hawaii Airbnbs From Honolulu to Kona

Luxury hotel Espacio, also in Waikiki, is offering a $500 resort credit when you book a premium view or penthouse suite, and guests who book luxury suites will score a $200 dining credit at the on-site elevated dining venue Mugen.

The historic Mauna Kea Resort, which dates back to 1965 when Laurance S. Rockefeller first opened the property, reopened in November. The updated Big Island resort now consists of the original Mauna Kea Beach Hotel (which reopened on November 1) and the Westin Hapuna Beach Resort (which reopened on November 20). Mauna Kea Beach Hotel is offering a fifth night free, and the Westin Hapuna Beach Resort is offering a fourth free night, among other promotions.

For those who have been eagerly waiting for Kauai to reopen (again), some family-friendly resort residences may be calling. Timbers Kauai Ocean Club and Residences features two- to four-bedroom residences on 450 acres of the island’s south shore between Lihue and Poipu. Guests have access to the pool, beach, spa, fitness center, and oceanfront dining venues. Nearby is Kukuiula, where one- to four-bedroom cottages (many with a separate guesthouse for added privacy and space) are perfect for family get-togethers in paradise. You (or a private chef) can cook meals in your home or be served island fare at the clubhouse and in nearby Poipu. There are pools, a spa, a fitness center, a farm, and water activities aplenty to keep everyone in the clan as busy or relaxed as they would like to be.

And of course, for longer stays there are many great Airbnbs throughout Hawaii.

This story originally appeared on March 24, 2020, and has been updated on March 30, 2021, to include current information. 

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