The unprecedented challenge of COVID-19 is disrupting many parts of our society, and it makes sense to ask yourself what it means for an upcoming trip to Hawaii if you are in the lucky position of planning one.
The information on this page is primarily meant for people who have concerns about traveling to Hawai’i. 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: While we are keeping a close eye on the situation in Hawai’i we are no official resource. Please consult any of the official links we supply below for the most up-to-date information.
Quarantine restrictions for inter-island and trans-continental flights
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, visitors 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 Hawaii Tourism Authority website for more information on who should quarantine and how.
The quarantine requirement for interisland travelers was lifted on June 16.
Interisland travelers are at the moment required to complete a Traveler Health Form in order to travel to a neighboring island. More information on the Department of Health website. You can also find a useful FAQ about the travel form on their website.
Starting August 1st, travelers with a negative COVID-19 pre-test can visit Hawaii without quarantine
Gov. David Ige announced on June 24th all travelers arriving in Hawai‘i from out-of-state will be required to get a valid COVID-19 test prior to their arrival, and to show proof of a negative test result, to avoid the 14-day quarantine. The pre-travel testing program begins Aug. 1.
Out-of-state travelers arriving in Hawai‘i must get a PCR test prior to arrival from any testing location approved by the Hawai‘i State Department of Health. Evidence of a negative test result must be provided upon arrival in Hawai‘i. Without this, passengers arriving from out-of-state will be subject to the 14-day quarantine. No testing will be provided upon arrival at the airport.
You can find all currently available information in the official press release, see also the following outline.
Outline of the August 1st – Pre-Travel Testing Program details
While the exact details of the pre-travel testing program are still being worked out, the state has provided us with the following outline of what travelers can expect:
- Beginning August 1, travelers to Hawaii who have a valid negative COVID-19 FDA-approved PCR test from a CLIA-certified laboratory prior to arriving at Hawaii’s airports will not be subject to the 14-day quarantine. To reiterate, this test result must be done prior to arrival and the traveler must present evidence of this test upon arrival. Travelers will be responsible for the cost of the pre-travel test.
- The test has been taken 72 hours prior to getting on the plane to Hawaii.
- No testing will be provided upon arrival at the airport.
- The 14-day quarantine will remain in place for those who choose not to get pre-tested.
- Temperature checks will continue at airports across the state. Anyone with a temperature higher than 100.4 degrees or who is experiencing other symptoms will be required to undergo a secondary screening at the airport with trained healthcare staff.
- Travelers will be required to fill out the State Travel and Health forms upon arrival.
- Everyone must wear facial masks in all Hawaii airports and when entering places of business.
What will happen to COVID-19 in the coming months?
With the recently (June 16th) abolished inter-island travel restrictions and the June 24th announcement that starting august 1st, travelers with a negative COVID-19 pre-test can visit Hawaii without quarantine, the state of Hawaii is in the process of carefully reopening for tourism.
Tourism is an essential part of our economy and our government is trying to find a balance that keeps our inhabitants safe while allowing more visitors to visit respectfully.
Should you postpone your trip to Hawaii?
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. 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
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. Summarizing: if you are considering booking flights, 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.
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 or helpful and frequently updated resources
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:
- The COVID-19 discussion on the /r/HawaiiVisitors subreddit
- 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
Featured image by eddygaleotti via depositphotos