Travel Plans to Hawaii? Think Again

Taylor Stephan | | Industry NewsIndustry News
A very deserted Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii due to the abrupt halt in tourism. Photo Credit: WVLT

Thinking about traveling to Hawaii anytime soon? Better think again…

When the coronavirus pandemic began, Hawaii enacted one of the strictest lockdowns of any state in the nation. Flights were essentially non-existent, and if you did manage to fly there, you were required to quarantine in your hotel/condo/apartment/house/whatever it may have been for 14 days without leaving. And at first, Hawaii was a model state for its effectiveness for slowing the spread of coronavirus.

Since their initial success, times have changed. Hawaii was originally scheduled to open back up with restrictions starting June 1st, however, that was pushed back to September 1st. Now, with September 1st just weeks away, the state has announced they will be pushing that date back until at least October 1st at the earliest.

“We will continue to monitor the conditions here in Hawaii as well as key markets on the mainland to determine the appropriate start date for the pre-travel (COVID-19) testing program.”

– David Ige, Governor of Hawaii

What does the pre-travel coronavirus testing program entail? The program allows tourists to bypass the state’s mandatory 14-day quarantine period if they can provide a negative coronavirus test at the airport within 72 hours of departure.

Coronavirus cases
Coronavirus cases tracker. Photo Credit: Maui Now

What led the state to reverse course? Governor Ige indicated a surge in outbreaks in key travel markets on the mainland U.S, an increase in cases in Hawaii, the effect of an increase in Hawaiian cases straining the local testing supply, and the expected increase in cases when the school year starts back up.

Overall, Hawaii has had roughly 5,600 reported cases of coronavirus along with 42 deaths as of 8/19/2020. As a result of the strict lockdown, the tourism industry has suffered gravely as it is one of the main economic contributors to the state. Tourism alone makes up 21% of the state’s economy with almost 10 million visitors annually.

Let’s face it, coronavirus has changed the face of travel. Where can we travel? How should we travel? Is it safe to travel? These questions will continue for the foreseeable future as states, and the rest of the world, reassess the trade-off of opening back up vs. managing potential coronavirus cases.

Coronavirus testing in Hawaii. Photo Credit: Star Advertiser 

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