Hawaii extends 14-day quarantine through June: Here’s what tourists need to know

May 20, 2020

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If a potential trip to Hawaii was on your radar for June, you’ll need to readjust your expectations. On May 18, Governor David Ige issued his Eighth Emergency Supplementary Proclamation to the state’s emergency rules. In part, it extended the mandatory 14-day self-quarantine for arriving passengers — tourists and residents — through June 30. (The rule was previously set to expire on May 31.)

So while a visit to see Hawaii’s incredible beauty and natural wonders is ever-appealing, the state and its residents — that traditionally embrace (responsible) travelers and are more than willing to share their little piece of paradise — are asking that you stay home for just a bit longer.

As of press time, Hawaii has 641 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. The highest number of cases, 415, are on Oahu. There are 117 cases on Maui; 78 on the Big Island, and 21 on Kauai. An additional 10 residents have been diagnosed with the virus outside the state. There have been 17 deaths attributed to COVID-19 in Hawaii.

Visit TPG’s guide to all coronavirus news and updates

If you visit GoHawaii.com, the islands’ main hub for travel information, you’ll see this announcement: “At this time, like many of you, we are focusing on the health and safety of our community, visitor industry employees, healthcare professionals and our healthcare system. As a small remote island community, our residents are particularly vulnerable to the COVID-19 crisis. Hawaii Governor David Ige has asked that you postpone your trips to Hawaii to give us the opportunity to address this health crisis.”

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In This Post

Hyatt Regency Maui. (Photo by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy)
Hyatt Regency Maui. (Photo by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy)

If you go, there’s a 14-day self-quarantine

Gov. Ige isn’t just asking you to stay away right now. He’s putting some teeth behind those words. On March 26, 2020, he issued emergency rules to safeguard Hawaii from the threat of the novel coronavirus. Part of the order included the mandatory 14-day self-quarantine for anyone arriving on the island or traveling inter-island with the exception of individuals “performing critical infrastructure functions.”

For visitors, quarantine really means quarantine. You cannot leave your quarantine location unless you need to seek medical care. You may not visit public spaces, such as a pool, fitness center or restaurant during this period, even within your hotel, if that’s where you are quarantining. And, you may not have any visitors — unless it’s a healthcare professional.

You might think you could head to Hawaii and skirt the self-quarantine — just cheat a bit. However, that’s a bad idea for all sorts of reasons. Tourists have been arrested for breaking quarantine early and car rental agencies are banned from renting a vehicle to anyone subject to this mandatory quarantine. Anyone who intentionally or knowingly breaks quarantine can be convicted of a misdemeanor. That could mean a fine up to $5,000 or jail time of up to one year.

There is also a stay-at-home order in place for residents across the islands and they can only leave their homes to conduct essential business, such as going to the doctor, grocery shopping or picking up takeout from a restaurant. While the self-quarantine rule was extended through June 30, the governor said that some current restrictions may be eased over the coming days and could include some sort of reopening for hair salons and restaurants. It’s not just tourists impacted by these orders.

Related: Why we love Hawaii

Register with Hawaii’s Safe Travels system

If you decide to travel to the state and adhere to the self-quarantine, you’ll need to register with Hawaii’s Safe Travels system. Do this at least 72 hours before arrival. Although you don’t have to register, it will speed your exit from the airport because you will be asked to show your registration confirmation page.

Once you’re in quarantine, you need to check in on the app daily to report the condition of your health. We wouldn’t be surprised to see the continued use of this app in some form in the future — even after the self-quarantine rule expires.

Related: How Iceland may be one of the first countries to welcome back tourists 

Screenshot courtesy of safetravels.hawaii.gov
Screenshot courtesy of safetravels.hawaii.gov

Flight schedules have been reduced

As you would imagine, the 14-day self-quarantine requirement has done what it was conceived to do — convince travelers to stay home and avoid Hawaii in the short term. In the period of May 1–18 2019, some 422,651 visitors and residents arrived in Hawaii by air, according to data provided by the Hawaii Vacation & Convention Bureau (HVCB). In that same period in May 2020, only 10,947 individuals arrived to Hawaii by air.

This decline in passengers led airlines to drop some flights between the mainland and the Hawaiian Islands. Out of Southwest’s 12 daily flights to Hawaii, the carrier has temporarily suspended all but two of them. You’ll have fewer options to get to Hawaii until the self-quarantine rule expires and visitor volume rebounds enough to convince airlines to add back service.

(Photo by Summer Hull / The Points Guy)
Island-hopping on Southwest. (Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)

Related: What it’s like to fly in the US right now

You’ll have to wear a face mask

On April 17, the governor of Hawaii issued an order requiring anyone visiting an essential business to wear a face mask. (Employees must also wear a mask.) You’ll also need to wear a face covering when riding public transportation. So even if you get through the two-week quarantine and get out and about, life in Hawaii won’t feel back to “normal” the way you knew it before March.

Related: Does my child need to wear a face mask while traveling?

Each island may have additional rules you need to follow

Oahu, Kauai, Maui County (Maui, Molokai and Lanai) and the Big Island have all issued additional and more specific guidelines and directives than the state in relation to bars, restaurants and which parks and beaches are open. If you travel to the islands, you need to be aware of those guidelines as well as the state’s mandatory quarantine.

Coronavirus rules in Oahu

  • All travel, including, but not limited to, travel on foot, bicycle, scooter, motorcycle, automobile or public transit, except for essential travel and essential activities, is prohibited.
  • All city and county of Honolulu parks are open on a limited basis for individual exercise activities.

Get up-to-date rules about travel to Oahu.

Waikiki Beach and Diamond Head Crater including the hotels and buildings in Waikiki, Honolulu, Oahu island, Hawaii. Waikiki Beach in the center of Honolulu has the largest number of visitors in Hawaii (Photo by okimo/Getty Images)
Waikiki Beach and Diamond Head Crater. (Photo by okimo/Getty Images)

Coronavirus rules in Kauai

  • The beach closures in Gov. Ige’s Seventh Supplemental Proclamation, and any subsequent proclamation, are not applicable to the County of Kauai. Beaches are open with restrictions: All groups are limited to a single residential or family unit sharing the same address. No group can be larger than 10 people. Anyone using the beach must comply with social-distancing requirements; the beach may only be used one half-hour before sunrise to one half-hour after sunset (unless the person is engaged in shore fishing or permitted outdoor exercise).

Get up-to-date rules about travel to Kauai.

Coronavirus rules in Maui County

  • All bars, nightclubs, theaters, public gathering venues and tourist attractions are closed.
  • As of May 16, about 60 parks in the county reopened for exercise use. Here’s a list of open beaches in Maui.
  • Restaurants and cafes are closed for customer seating but can provide takeout and delivery.
  • All travel, including, but not limited to, travel on foot, bicycle, scooter, motorcycle, automobile or public transit, except for essential travel and essential activities, is prohibited.

Get up-to-date rules about travel to Maui.

Coronavirus rules in Big Island

  • Bed and breakfasts, short-term vacation rentals and timeshares must cease operation except when accommodating medical personnel, first responders or workers in critical trades.
  • All County of Hawaii parks and recreational facilities are closed.
  • The following parks are open on a limited basis for walking, jogging and running: Hilo Bayfront Trails, Kaumana Lani Park (Hokulani), Machado Acres Park, Waiohinu Park, Clarence Lum Won Park and Walua Trail.
  • The following beaches are open for exercise, fishing and use of restroom/shower: Kahaluu Beach Park, Magic Sands Beach Park, Waihaha Bay Beach Park, Kawaihae Canoe Area, Honolii Beach Park, Kaipalaoa Landing Beach Park, Bayfront Park, Reed’s Bay Beach Park, Liliuokalani Gardens, Richardson Ocean Park, Carlsmith Beach Park, and Mahukona Wharf (does not include the park section).
  • Hilo Municipal Golf Course reopened May 11 with modified rules for play and social-distancing requirements in effect.

Get up-to-date rules about travel to the Big Island.

Many hotels are closed

Nonessential businesses are still closed in Hawaii and that includes short-term rentals, which are defined as “lodging that provide guest accommodations for less than 30 days other than hotels and motels.” Even still, many hotels across the islands are currently closed, including some of TPG’s favorites listed below.

Ritz-Carlton Kapalua
The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua. (Photo courtesy of The Ritz-Carlton)

Some hotels, like the Grand Wailea, are taking reservations for May 30 and beyond while others such as The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua aren’t taking bookings for stays until July 1 and later. If making reservations for June or July, understand that opening dates could be subject to change.

Related: TPG readers reveal their favorite points hotels in Hawaii

Can you eat out?

Restaurants and cafes are closed for customer seating but can provide takeout and delivery.

Related: These are the best times to visit Hawaii

Are attractions and activities open?

Many attractions are still closed on the Hawaiian Islands.

However, on May 6, the Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of State Parks announced the reopening of select state parks and monuments. Social-distancing requirements are still in place and not all recreation areas are open but the process of reopening has begun. Activities such as gatherings, picnics and camping are still not allowed.

The beaches are closed

Kaanapali Beach, Maui, Hawaii
Kaanapali Beach on Maui. (Photo by ejs9/Getty Images)

Beaches are only open for exercise, fishing and food gathering. You can’t stand still or sit on the sand, but there are provisions for swimming, surfing and paddling. When you are crossing the sand to get to the water for one of the allowable activities, you must adhere to social-distancing measures.

Will passengers be tested upon arrival to Hawaii?

A growing number of destinations, such as Austria and Iceland, plan to lean on COVID-19 testing upon arrival as an alternative to a 14-day quarantine. That option was discussed on the May 14 Facebook Live hosted by the governor of Hawaii, along with Dr. Park and Dr. Desmond. This group stated that the rapid COVID-19 tests take from five to 13 minutes to conduct, and weren’t currently a viable solution to use on arriving tourists to Hawaii due to a few limitations in application.

Hawaii typically has 30,000 visitors arrive per day during normal times, which the trio of Hawaii officials stated would be a prohibitive number of tests to conduct given that one machine could only handle about three tests per hour. There were also concerns raised that the test, even if it works perfectly, only gives you a snapshot in time and may not tell you if you were incubating the virus.

On that same Facebook Live, the governor stated that Hawaii is exploring increased screening for passengers before they depart for Hawaii. However, his understanding is that current laws and testing capacity rule out requiring incoming visitors to be tested for COVID-19 before departure to the islands.

Bottom line

For most travelers, now is still not the time to visit Hawaii because of the restrictions in place to stop the spread of coronavirus. Of course, it is understandably disappointing to miss out on a trip to the islands, but the experience there now wouldn’t be the quintessential one of lazy beach days, mai tais at a pool bar or luaus on the beach.

TPG will follow Hawaii’s path to reopening and will let you know as rules relax and visitors are once again welcome to visit the islands.

Featured image courtesy of Timur Alexandrov/EyeEm/Getty Images

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