Hawaii approves the potential use of ‘resort bubbles’ for quarantined travelers

Sep 16, 2020

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Hotel stays in 2020 look a lot different than they did in years prior. Now, we’re starting to see resorts conduct contactless check-ins, scaled-back room service and mandatory quarantine in some countries in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

But now, Hawaii is taking it a step further, by signing off on “resort bubbles” that would allow guests at some hotels to leave their rooms — if they agree to wear a GPS monitor.

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Kaua’i Mayor Derek S. K. Kawakami announced an “Enhanced Movement Quarantine,” or “Resort Bubble,” program approved by Gov. David Ige. The program would permit visitors to leave their rooms to experience amenities at their hotel or resort during the mandatory quarantine period.

Under the current quarantine guidelines in Hawaii, guests entering the Aloha State are not allowed to leave their hotel rooms for 14 days, even with a negative COVID-19 test. Under the new rule, guests would be allowed to visit restaurants or pools while wearing a mask and practicing social distancing. Guests would be required to wear an electronic monitoring bracelet that uses a technology called geofencing that would track their movement.

Honolulu, Hawaii. (Photo by Timur Alexandrov/EyeEm/Getty Images)
Honolulu, Hawaii. (Photo by Timur Alexandrov/EyeEm/Getty Images)

According to Hawaii’s Department of Health, the “Resort Bubble” concept is a voluntary program for resorts and visitors coming to the state and is not the “final solution.”

“We understand the need to address the economic hardship facing our tourism-based community, while also preserving the safety of our residents,” Mayor Kawakami said in a statement.

“The Resort Bubble program is an added tool to reopening our economy while we learn to co-exist with this virus. It’s not a replacement or the final solution, and we will continue to keep our community updated as we make progress,” he continued.

However, this announcement doesn’t mean all the big resorts in Kauai are ready to reopen in a bubble. According to The Garden Island, Dan King, the General Manager of the popular Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort has indicated that — at least for now — the property does not plan to reopen until the 14-day quarantine is lifted.

Related: What are the state quarantines really like?

But if you think you’ll be able to stretch the rules within the resorts that may operate as bubbles, think again. Rule-breakers who break quarantine or tamper with the bracelet will immediately be flagged by hotel security and police will respond. According to Hawaii News Now, guests who break the rules face a $5,000 fine and up to a year in jail.

As we’ve reported for months, several states in the U.S. have imposed two-week quarantines on anyone arriving from hard-hit areas in the United States in an effort to stop the spread of coronavirus. These states initially included Alaska and Hawaii. Both geographically isolated states have announced plans for entry without quarantine for those with a negative COVID-19 test, but while Alaska has implemented that plan, Hawaii has had to delay its reopening plans multiple times due to rising coronavirus cases in the state.

Hawaii has pushed back its reopening date to at least Oct. 1 and has recorded over 10,000 cases of the novel coronavirus and 100 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Featured photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy

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