The unprecedented challenge of COVID-19 is impacting many parts of our society, and it makes sense to ask yourself what it means for your upcoming trip to Hawaii.
The information on this page is primarily meant for people who have concerns about traveling to Hawai’i. Logical questions to ask yourself are for example:
While we cannot give you definitive answers we can give you up-to-date information about the current status of the coronavirus in Hawaii and discuss some potential impacts on your vacation plans.
Disclaimer: We are keeping a close eye on the situation in Hawai’i but are no official resource. Please consult any of the official links we supply below for the most up-to-date information.
Mandatory self-quarantine for ALL new arrivals
Important: Effective, Thursday, March 26, 2020, Governor David Ige has ordered that all persons entering the State of Hawai‘i to self-quarantine for 14 days or for the duration of their stay in Hawai‘i, whichever is shorter.
Upon arrival, residents are required to self-quarantine in a designated location in their residence. Visitors will self-quarantine in their hotel room or rented lodging. Self-quarantined individuals may only leave their designated location for medical emergencies or to seek medical care. Failure to comply with all rules and protocols related to quarantines is punishable by fines of up to $5,000 and/or imprisonment of up to one year.See the Department of Health (DOH) airport poster:
What will happen to COVID-19 in the coming months?
Currently the coronavirus is classified as a global pandemic and many countries are closing their borders as well as taking measures of different severity to slow the spread of the virus e.g. by social distancing. Travel to Hawaii from Europe, for example, is not possible in the foreseeable future.
The best case scenario is that where our public health efforts work, with as result the least newsworthy thing ever: nothing happens in the end. If this all fizzles out and you start feeling like ‘Wah, all that fuss for nothing??’ Then please send a thank-you note to your local department of public health for a job well done. They are working very, very hard right now. Fingers crossed for that outcome.
Should I postpone my trip to Hawaii? (yes!)
First of all, because COVID-19 is especially high-risk for seniors and people with compromised immune systems, people in those categories should minimize their exposure. The best way to minimize exposure is to stay at home which means you should seriously consider postponing your trip to Hawaii.
For the “young and healthy” it is a more complicated decision. Keep a close eye on updates from the resources we link below (including the CDC and the WHO) to find the most recent information on possible health risks so that you can make a decision based on facts.
For those people still considering going to Hawaii it is smart to keep in mind that your travel plans might get impacted by quarantines. Some questions you should ask yourself are:
- How bad would it be if you got stuck in Hawaii for 3 to 6 weeks?
- How bad would it be to be isolated at home for 2-3 weeks upon your return?
- Please also keep in mind that the Big Island is not a good place to “sit this out”. We are dependent on shipping for most of our resources and only have a limited amount of hospital beds and doctors. (Additionally, governor Ige urges visitors to stay away from Hawaii until at least mid-April)
Of course, another consideration is the financial one. Travel is bound to get cheaper but you need to keep your options open. This means that any bookings you make should ideally be refundable and/or that you should get CFAR trip insurance. In more concrete terms:
Can you get a refund for your hotel/vacation rental? (probably)
The answer to this question depends on the site you used for your booking and/or on the details of your travel insurance. A good place to start researching this question is by first having a look at the specific policies of the website you used for your booking:
- AirBnB cancellation policy re: the coronavirus (Coronavirus and extenuating circumstances policy)
- Booking.com information re: the coronavirus (under what conditions can you expect a full refund, etc.)
- Expedia resource on the coronavirus
- VRBO: what to do when your travel is affected by the coronavirus.
You can also always try to get directly in touch with the hotel /vacation rental you have booked with to discuss your options.
Can you get a refund for your flight?
Many airlines are giving out waivers to allow for more flexible travel arrangement for newly booked flights. These airlines include Hawaiian Airlines, Delta Air Lines, American Airlines, United, and more. You can find a full list of airlines that are changing their policies in response to the COVID-19 outbreak halfway down this page maintained by the Hawaii Tourism Authority.
In short: if you are considering booking flights right now, get refundable tickets and make sure that you have good travel insurance.
Can you get a refund for your tour/activity?
Most tours here in Hawaii have a 48 hours cancellation policy so you should have no problem getting a full refund. Before booking any tour make sure to read the cancellation policy to be sure though!
Always good to have: CFAR trip insurance!
Important: get travel insurance with the right kind of coverage.
Travel insurance cancellation coverage policies offer full refunds only for a set of circumstances such as injury or illness, death, or natural disasters. Fortunately COVID-19 hasn’t made it to the ‘natural disaster’ status but that means you’d need buy extra coverage on your travel insurance if you want to have the freedom to cancel your trip for any reason.
You have to check the fine print of your favorite travel insurance policy but most (if not all) will not cover cancellations due to a pandemic. The insurance you need to look for is the “cancel for any reason” (CFAR) trip insurance. This insurance typically covers up to 50-75% (depending on provider and plan) of pre-paid and non-refundable expenses and deposits if you want to cancel your trip (for any reason).
Note that there are conditions to CFAR insurance such as for example that your trip must be canceled within a certain number of days before the planned trip (usually two days). Make sure to familiarize yourself with the insurance conditions before choosing a policy.
Official resources (frequently updated):
Unfortunately, our commercial news media sensationalizes the danger of this and all crises. Social media is even worse. Please rely on facts, and not rumors, to get your information.
If you have any questions regarding the COVID-19 virus we recommend following frequently updated official resources:
- Sign up for email notifications from the Hawaii Department of Health
- Hawaii Tourism Authority updates
- Hawai‘i Department of Health dedicated COVID-19 website
- Hawaii Department of Transportation
- Center for Disease Control and Prevention
- World Health Organization
Feature image by eddygaleotti via depositphotos