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Travel to Hawaii during Covid-19: What you need to know before you go


If you’re planning to travel to Hawaii, here’s what you’ll need to know and expect if you want to visit during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The latest news

Hawaii has urged tourists to stay away from the state as Covid numbers surge to new levels but has stopped short of restricting people from visiting altogether.

“We know that it is not a good time to travel to the islands,” Gov. David Ige said on August 23. “The visitors who choose to come to the islands will not have the typical kind of holiday that they expect to get when they visit.”

Ige says tourists will face rental car shortages as well as limited access to restaurants and other places to eat.

The state now has the following measures in effect:

– Social gatherings are limited to no more than 10 people indoors and no more than 25 outdoors.

— Customers in restaurants, bars and social establishments must stay seated with parties keeping at least 6 feet apart. Maximum group sizes are 10 indoors and 25 outdoors. Masks must be worn at all times except when actively eating or drinking. No mingling is allowed.

For all high-risk activities, indoor capacity is set at 50%. This includes bars, restaurants, gyms and social establishments.

These statewide limitations will remain in place until October 18 unless a new order is issued.

The basics

Hawaii has ended its pre-travel testing and quarantine requirement for domestic travelers if they’ve been fully vaccinated for Covid-19 in the United States.

Travelers must upload their CDC-issued vaccination card to the state’s Safe Travels Program website and have the card with them upon arrival as well.

Visitors who aren’t fully vaccinated still must provide a negative result from a Covid-19 test taken 72 hours or less before the final leg of their trip to enter.

All air passengers entering the United States must present a negative test result. See below for details on which test types are approved specifically for the state of Hawaii, including for Americans arriving from other states.

What’s on offer

Spectacular surfing, sandy beaches, traditional Pacific culture and rugged volcanoes await Hawaii visitors. Hawaii’s geographical position and proud history make it unlike anywhere else in the United States.

Who can go

Travelers from other US states (who are unvaccinated), Canada, Japan, Philippines, South Korea’s Incheon International Airport, Tahiti and Taiwan are allowed to bypass Hawaii’s mandatory 10-day quarantine on most islands by following strict pre-travel testing rules (see below).

Beyond those places, Hawaii is following CDC guidelines, meaning those who have been in Brazil, China, the European Schengen Area, Iran, India, Ireland, South Africa and the United Kingdom in the past 14 days will be denied entry.

Travelers from all other countries must undergo a 10-day quarantine. Check the Safe Travels Hawai’i site for details as the situation evolves.

All tourists must also complete a Safe Travels Hawaii form, and many will need to undergo a health screening on arrival. A couple of islands also require a second Covid-19 test upon arrival.

What are the restrictions?

Currently, travelers must either undergo a 10-day quarantine or — if traveling from a handful of countries (listed above) — avoid quarantine by presenting a negative test from a “trusted partner,” a list of which can be found on the Hawaii Covid-19 website. Fully vaccinated domestic travelers can still bypass pre-travel testing and quarantine.

For air travelers 5 and older entering Hawaii from abroad, getting a test from one of Hawaii’s approved Trusted Testing Partners will be particularly important because some tests accepted under the US testing entry requirement that went into effect in January would not allow travelers to bypass Hawaii’s quarantine.

Travelers, including those arriving from the US mainland, must have a negative test result before departing on the last leg of their trip to Hawaii unless fully vaccinated. Test results must be uploaded to the Safe Travels Hawaii site before your flight to the islands or printed out prior to departure with the hard copy ready to present upon arrival. Otherwise, you will incur the 10-day quarantine.

Registration with Safe Travels Hawaii as soon as flights are booked is mandatory for all travelers older than 18.

All restrictions on intercounty travel remained lifted, meaning no pre-travel testing or quarantining is needed for travel between the Hawaiian islands.

What’s the Covid situation?

With about 73,850 cases and 679 deaths reported as of September 16, Hawaii has seen relatively low Covid numbers compared with other US states. It’s had the some of strictest lockdown and travel measures of any state.

Hawaii began easing restrictions earlier this year, but the increasing spread of the Delta variant has spurred the state to once again tighten up on gathering sizes.

What can visitors expect?

Honululu Mayor Rick Blangiardi announced “Safe Access O’ahu,” which requires patrons and employees of restaurants, bars, gyms, movie theaters, museums, arcades and other types of establishments to be fully vaccinated to enter. There are a few exceptions. Among them:

— Customers with proof of a negative Covid-19 test result (molecular or antigen) taken with 48 hours of entry into the covered premises along with another piece of ID.

— Children younger than 12 years old.

The program for Hawaii’s most populous county started this week.

Maui is taking similar steps with its “Safer Outside” program that’ just went in effect and will be reviewed in a month. Some highlights:

— All social gatherings, with a maximum of 10, should be held outside.

— Inside social gatherings should be limited to five people.

— Restaurant, bars and other high risk spaces should limit occupancy to 50% and close by 10 p.m.

— Proof of vaccination required by 12 and older to dine indoors.

Maui is currently not considering testing as an option for patrons to dine indoors; testing will be available for employees. The unvaccinated may dine outdoors or order takeout.

Some restrictions can vary by island, but masks are no longer required outside on a statewide basis. However, mask wearing is highly recommended when in a large group outdoors. Indoors, masks are required in public indoor settings unless you’re eating and drinking.

Parks and beaches are still open.

Useful links

Covid-19 State of Hawaii portal

Hawaii Trusted Travel Partners

Safe Travels Program

Hawaii Covid-19 Travel News and Headlines

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