Traveling to Hawaii? You’ll now need a booster for indoor dining in Maui

Jan 5, 2022

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Hawaii’s Safe Travels, the digital COVID-19 health system required for use by all visitors of the Aloha State, has officially been in use for more than a year. As the omicron variant spreads, it’s likely to stay around a bit longer. Under the system, travelers must show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test to avoid quarantine on arrival. But there have been updates to the program, as well as island-specific rules, in recent days.

Here’s the latest on traveling to Hawaii right now and what you need to prepare for a successful trip.

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In This Post

The latest

(Photo by Zach Honig/The Points Guy)

Boosters required for indoor dining, gyms in Maui

Want to dine indoors in Maui? Having a COVID-19 vaccine is no longer enough — patrons will now be required to show proof of a booster dose of the vaccine or a negative test. Maui County Mayor Mike Victorino said that proof of a booster dose would be required starting Jan. 8 to enter restaurants, bars and gyms on the island.

“Science says that after the second shot of Pfizer and Moderna vaccinations or the single Johnson & Johnson shot vaccinations weaken after about six months,” Victorino said, according to Hawaii News Now.

Diners and gym-goers at Maui establishments will need to prove that they’ve received a booster shot “as soon as they are eligible.” The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says people should receive a booster if it’s been six months since the last dose of Pfizer or Moderna, or two months after Johnson & Johnson.

Hawaii reduces quarantine as CDC guidelines change

The CDC issued new isolation and quarantine guidance in late December, shortening the recommended isolation time from 10 days to five for people who test positive for COVID-19 but are asymptomatic. Additionally, individuals with no symptoms or resolving symptoms can exit isolation after five days but should wear a mask for at least five more days. (Individuals with a fever should continue to stay at home and isolate, the agency said.)

Following the CDC’s guidelines, Hawaii reduced its mandatory quarantine for travelers who arrive without proof of vaccination or are COVID-19-positive from 10 days to five for domestic U.S. travelers, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported. Additionally, the questionnaire portion of the “Safe Travels” application will be discontinued, the state announced.

Hawaii is reducing its quarantine even as cases in the Aloha State and on the mainland surge. The state’s Department of Health has recorded nearly 30,000 positive cases alone in the last 14 days . Since the pandemic began, more than 126,000 people have tested positive, and more than 1,000 have died. More than 70% of Hawaii residents are fully vaccinated, according to state vaccine data.

Restrictions by island

(Photo by Zach Honig/The Points Guy)
  • Big Island: Gatherings on the Big Island are capped at 100 individuals outdoors or 10 people indoors. Masks must be worn except while eating or drinking, and separate groups are prohibited from intermingling.
  • Oahu: The are no capacity restrictions for businesses in Oahu, but masks must be worn indoors. People must also comply with the “Safe Access” program by showing proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test to visit indoor fitness facilities and all indoor and outdoor businesses where food or beverage is served.
  • Kauai: Restaurants in Kauai are permitted to operate at 100% capacity. Masks must be worn except while eating or drinking.
  • Maui: Restaurants can operate at 100% capacity but must participate in the “Safer Outside” program. Proof of vaccination is required to enter restaurants and bars on Maui.

Proof of vaccination is required to visit many indoor venues across the islands. Restaurant and bar-goers can show proof of full immunization by showing a state-approved vaccination card (hard or photocopy) or a state-approved digital device confirming full vaccination status, defined as two weeks after the final dose of an FDA-authorized or approved COVID-19 vaccination.

The guidance also applies to certain entertainment and recreational settings, including bowling alleys, movie theaters, museums, indoor gyms, fitness centers and activity-specific studios.

Related: I visited a reopened Kauai in Hawaii — 5 things to know before you go

Who can travel to Hawaii

A beach in Maui, Hawaii, USA
(Photo by Pierre Leclerc / Shutterstock.com)

Fully vaccinated travelers no longer have to get pre-travel testing or quarantine upon arrival.  Out-of-state visitors who are not vaccinated can skip the mandatory quarantine that’s part of Hawaii’s travel requirements with proof of a negative COVID-19 test from a trusted facility.

Vaccinated travelers must:

  • Provide a CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card with their name, birth date, type of vaccine, date(s) vaccine was administered and lot number(s) for each vaccine dose.
  • Create an online account and register with the State of Hawaii Safe Travels Hawaii web program.
  • Upload a PDF file or digital image of a correctly filled CDC Vaccination Record Card to the Safe Travels Hawaii web program.
  • Affirm they are fully vaccinated and that the uploaded CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card is accurate and authentic.
  • Travel with a digital image and the original CDC Vaccination Record Card in case it’s requested.

Unvaccinated U.S. travelers must complete the following steps before entering Hawaii’s participating islands:

  • Register through the mandatory Hawaii Safe Travels online program (if 18 or older).
  • Within 72 hours of departure time,  undergo an approved COVID-19 test with negative results through Hawaii’s trusted testing and travel partners. This applies to each traveler age 5 or older.
  • Have the negative test result in hand when boarding the final flight leg to Hawaii.
  • Comply with all social distancing and mask requirements during travel.
  • Pass thermal temperature checks and facial-imaging technology upon arrival.
  • Produce the Safe Travels QR code for local officials upon arrival in Hawaii.

The state’s pre-travel testing program requires all non-vaccinated visitors to take a nucleic acid amplification test, such as a PCR test, from an approved testing partner within 72 hours and obtain results before departure to Hawaii. If you’re not fully vaccinated, that’s the only way to bypass the state’s mandatory quarantine.

The latest on vaccine passports

To avoid quarantine, travelers have to upload proof of vaccination to the Safe Travels program. Hawaii says it will accept a CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card, a printout from the Vaccination Administration Management System or digital options such as Clear’s Health Pass and CommonPass.

What does mandatory quarantine entail?

(Photo by Madison Blancaflor/The Points Guy)

Hawaii’s current mandatory five-day self-quarantine remains for anyone not vaccinated who does not follow the pre-travel testing requirements. This isn’t a destination where you can roam freely at your property of choice.

“Hawaii is our home,” Jeff Helfrick, the vice president of airport operations at Hawaiian Airlines, told TPG last year. “So it’s important not only that we take care of our island home, but also that we do it right.”

Travelers not cleared via the pre-travel program cannot leave their personal quarantine space, such as a hotel room, unless they are seeking medical care.

All public spaces, including any on-site resort pool, fitness center or restaurant, are off-limits during this period, which means food delivery and room service only. Visitors are also not allowed unless they are health care professionals explicitly checking on your health.

Anyone who intentionally or knowingly breaks quarantine can be convicted of a misdemeanor — and tourists have been arrested for breaking quarantine.

Related: I spent 3 days in quarantine with a tracking bracelet in Hawaii — Here’s what you need to know for Kauai

What if I want to travel between the Hawaiian islands?

Interisland travel is permitted, and travelers can now fly between the islands without any  vaccination or testing requirements.

Related: Why we love Hawaii

Testing facilities approved by Hawaii

(Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Hawaii has approved the following list of testing partners for the prearrival approval program, and travelers may only get tests from these locations. You may have to pay out of pocket for the voluntary COVID-19 test, so check with your insurance provider before proceeding.

Airlines and airports offering tests

(Photo by Madison Blancaflor/The Points Guy)

Multiple airlines, including United, Hawaiian, Alaska and American, have developed a testing system available to travelers flying to Hawaii from certain hub airports or via an at-home kit.

Alaska Airlines

Alaska Airlines partners with testing providers such as Carbon Health and Costco. Test results will be ready by the next business day (some results within three hours) and start at $150.

More information, including how to schedule an appointment, is available at alaskaair.com/hawaii-bound.

American Airlines

If you’re flying on American Airlines, day-of-travel testing is available through Collinson at the Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) airport. Locations include:

  • After security by Gate D7
  • After security by Gate D40
  • Before security by Gate D22

More information about testing with American can be found here.

Hawaiian Airlines

Hawaiian Airlines partners with Worksite Labs to provide drive-through COVID-19 PCR testing in select cities, including Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Seattle and San Francisco.

Worksite Labs will offer a test for $90, with results within 24 hours or in 12 hours for $150. Passengers on Hawaiian can also order a mail-in PCR saliva test online through Vault Health for $90.

More information about testing with Hawaiian Airlines can be found here.

United Airlines

Travelers flying on United Airlines to Hawaii can arrange for a mail-in PCR COVID-19 test. Travelers will receive results 24 to 48 hours before travel, and the cost is $119.

United offers Hawaii-bound passengers rapid testing at San Francisco International with results in 15 to 30 minutes for $225.

Those departing Denver (DEN), Houston (IAH), Washington (IAD) and Newark (EWR) to Hawaii on United can also do testing at those airports for $200 per person through XpresCheck.

More information about testing with United can be found here.

Some U.S. airports are also offering COVID-19 testing. Tampa International (TPA); Bradley International (BDL) near Hartford, Connecticut; New York-Newark (EWR), New York-JFK and others offer on-site testing. Oakland Airport (OAK) in California also provides preflight rapid antigen testing.

Related: You can now take a COVID-19 test at the Tampa Airport

Should I book a trip to Hawaii?

(Photo by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy)

There’s no question that Hawaii is a beautiful destination perfect for outdoor exploration. But, as we’ve often seen, things can change quickly for an island in the middle of the ocean with finite hospital capacity.

The state has a limited number of pre-travel testing providers. Some providers will not test children under 12, so do your research if you’re traveling with children 5 or older who are required to test to avoid quarantine.

But while travelers returning is excellent for the tourism and hospitality industries, it’s also put a strain on resources.

Rental cars can be challenging (and expensive) to find, and top sightseeing locations can be crowded. Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino has even requested that airlines help curb the number of visitors to the island.

A trip to Hawaii right now could mean massive crowds, understaffed hotels and fewer options on what you can see and do. More importantly, overtourism can negatively impact the local communities in the state.

Related: Getting a coronavirus test for travel is not always possible

Bottom line

Hundreds of thousands of would-be visitors have delayed or canceled trips to Hawaii during the pandemic. For now, travelers can enter Hawaii without testing or quarantine if they are fully vaccinated.

If your family plans to join the thousands of visitors entering Hawaii each day without quarantine, triple-check all documents, deadlines, test requirements and timelines leading up to your trip. It also won’t hurt to familiarize yourself with airline, hotel and other travel cancellation policies if something doesn’t go as planned.

Related:

Additional reporting by Caroline Tanner, Chris Dong, Victoria M. Walker, Katherine Fan, Madison Blancaflor, Clint Henderson, Nick Ellis, Andrea M. Rotondo and Ashley Kosciolek.

Featured photo of Maui by Matt Anderson/Getty Images

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