UPDATE: June 4
Hawaii's governor declines to set a reopening date for tourism at the moment.
"We err on the side of protecting the public health," Hawaii's governor, David Ige, said. "That's what we do in an emergency."
UPDATE: Tuesday, May 19
Late Monday, Hawaiian officials unveiled a four-phase plan to safely reopen the state's economy.
Gov. Ige also extended the mandatory 14-day quarantine for travelers through June 30.
It's a destination for all.
From honeymooners to second honeymooners to vacationers to outdoor adventurists to surfing enthusiasts, Hawaii has something for everyone.
But the impact of the coronavirus has just about shut off the islands to tourists, who are asking the million-dollar question - when can you travel to Hawaii again?
Right now, it's a complicated situation and the safe, easy answer is, you shouldn't travel to the islands right now and probably not until July, at the earliest.
You shouldn't travel to Hawaii right now.
It doesn't mean you can't travel to Hawaii right now.
As The Points Guy blog noted, there really are just too many hurdles to overcome to have the true Hawaii experience right now.
Even GoHawaii.com, the state's main tourist information portal, there is an announcement on the home page that reads: "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."
So, for tourists, it's currently a daunting landscape - even for the few that have come. For the six-week period starting March 26 through May 13, 7,638 visitors came to Hawaii. A typical month this time of year draws more than 850,000 tourists.
But a large part of that is the quarantine that is in effect for tourists, the restrictions and a simple lack of tourist amenities. To wit:
- Once you arrive in Hawaii, you are immediately under a 14-day quarantine. And, truth be told, it is strictly enforced. For the second time in a nine-day span, a tourist was arrested and faces jail time and a $5,000 for violating the order. Posting pictures at the beach on social media probably didn't help.
- Good luck finding a flight now anyway. Airlines have drastically cut back routes to Hawaii, as evidenced by Southwest going from 12 daily flights to two.
- Gov. Ige says the quarantine, due to expire on May 31, will likely be extended another month.
- Most beaches are closed, except in Kauai.
- Many hotels are closed.
- Most restaurants are open only for takeout service.
Keith Vieira, principal of KV & Associates, Hospitality Consulting, told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser that "it's time for some bravery and risk. We have to set a date to reopen tourism and the Governor should be leading these directives. … If June 30 is the end of the quarantine, we won't see tourism reopening on July 1. Hotels that have been closed will need 30 to 60 days to get ready to reopen. They need time to order food and supplies and train for new safety protocols. "
If you travel to Hawaii you'll need to register with the state's Safe Travels system, something of a way to trace and contact you. It's going to take a lot of vacation time and a lot of money to be able to go to Hawaii, quarantine for 14 days, and when that's up then vacation for a week, 10 days, two weeks, whatever.
In short order, this is not the time to go to Hawaii.
"We will be very careful in reopening domestic and international travel because of the continuing virus activity around the globe, which is very different from what we are seeing here in Hawaii," Ige said. "At the start of the pandemic, most if not all of our cases were travel-related. So we must remain vigilant and take small steps toward reopening travel to the islands in our effort to avoid a resurgence in cases in Hawaii."
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