Thank God the number of COVID deaths in the United States is lower than it was in the spring, but because the number of cases is so out of control, travel is just not worth the risk for some. If I didn’t have two young kids and a history of asthma, I would have been on the first flight to Hawaii on October 15th to report on what it was like when they dropped their quarantine (I was invited by an airline). But I just can’t take that chance. Here’s what “opening day” was like, as reported by Christopher Reynolds of the LA Times.

RELATED: Best Face Masks for Flying During COVID-19

Sadly, I just don’t think Hawaii is going to stay open for long without imposing the mandatory quarantine again because testing 72 hours prior to arrival is not going to work. It’s pretty much common sense but if you need proof, look at what happened in New Zealand this week when 237 Russian and Ukrainian fisherman flew on a chartered flight from Moscow via Singapore (they didn’t get off the plane) and then to Christchurch. They were all given PCR tests prior to the flight and still 18 of them (and counting) have now tested positive. Here’s that story.

Fortunately, New Zealand does strict contact tracing so they should be fine but it just shows how fast COVID-19 can spread and how pre-testing doesn’t work. It’s a huge bummer because everyone wants the world to reopen without 14-day quarantines and for COVID-19 to go away but it’s just not going to happen by wishing. Below is my informal conversation with a PR person in New Zealand, who saw my comment on a tweet about this Australian Aviation article that backs all of this up.

“Hopes that pre-flight virus tests could replace quarantine were dealt a fresh blow after it emerged 18 overseas arrivals into New Zealand tested positive for COVID despite a negative result prior to departure.”

Kaz @serenity22 Replying to @JohnnyJet
We haven’t actually ‘doubled down’ but our example does demonstrate that pre flight testing is not enough to remove the quarantine period. Reality is that the process of travel itself appears to be the highest risk.

@JohnnyJet Replying to @serenity22
Thanks for sharing. How about testing on arrival? Then again a few days later? Making travelers quarantine for a few days is doable. 14 isn’t.

Kaz @serenity22 Replying to @JohnnyJet
In NZ we test on day 3 and day 12. Quite often people test negative day 3 and positive day 12. So 14 days remains safest bet. We have also had a few cases where they have tested positive after leaving iso.

@JohnnyJet Replying to @serenity22
Wow. Good to know. Thanks again for sharing. Looks like Hawaii and the rest of the world is screwed

Kaz @serenity22 Replying to @JohnnyJet
Yeah not ideal for short holidays for sure. Possibilities for longer stays where your isolation is in a nice venue though and you can relax and enjoy those two weeks before going on to travel through the country.

How Can Canadians Avoid Hawaii’s Quarantine?
While I’m on the subject of Hawaii … I’ve had a couple of Canadian readers ask how they can get around the mandatory 14-day quarantine. One reader messaged me to say: “Apparently, at this time, HI will not recognize our testing protocols even though they are the exact same ones the US uses……..” It doesn’t make much sense to me either but I think it will be a moot point in a few weeks (I pray that I’m wrong.)

Also on the subject of Hawaii:  Not every hotel, resort and B&B is open and since it’s difficult to keep track of, I recommend checking this Hawaii Magazine post often as they’re making the process of finding your accommodations a little easier with this compiled a list of hotels, resorts and B&Bs that plan to reopen, including dates.

And here are Hawaii’s official travel requirements.


6 Comments On "Why Hawaii’s COVID-19 Testing to Avoid Quarantine Isn’t Going to Last Long"
  1. Anonymous|

    Please dont come! You know there is a pandemic and youre running away from your pandemic home going to another place, thinking they are free, you are not free, you can bring it here or take it home with you as your souvenir! So please, go staycation in your own place!

  2. Antonio|

    Johnny, that main featured image at the very top of this story, where is that? Is that a Hotel?

    1. Johnny Jet|

      My wife pulled it from a free photo service of pics of Hawaii. I’m not sure but it looks like Kauai to me

  3. Ben D|

    You wrote: How about testing on arrival? Then again a few days later? Making travelers quarantine for a few days is doable. 14 isn’t.

    That is exactly what the Mayor of Kauai proposed, 3 days after arrival. The Governor denied it as too restrictive.

  4. Mark|

    Ive traveled this year from southern Florida to Denver San Diego and San Francisco, the problem is throngs of people under 35 partying , no masks nor social distancing. My friend who is a nurse confirmed most the new cases that show up at tthe hospital are under 35, Wear a mask, observe social distancing wash hands and keep traveling

  5. Lee|

    Well my experience FOLLOWING the Hawaii procedures was interesting. I took 3 tests. Mainly because getting results in 3 days in my region is iffy. In fact the last test email arrived as I was changing planes. The two tests done with official providers on the Hawaii list let me do the test in my car. Convenient but I am not medical professional. The third unacceptable one was done by my Doctors linked hospital by a Professional. I will say the attention to detail was not the same. Maybe good enough. All three gave the same results. My issue is with untrained people doing their own test. Let’s forget testing at home. You cannot verify whom actually took the test.

    The website to upload the results was unable to process my results. So this allows people to travel to Hawaii that may have Covid-19 or not even tested. Only to be turned back at the airport. So there is a risk to those on the plane and/or airport.

    Now the process once you arrive seems tight. I was not able to check in to my hotel with out documentation from the airport saying I was okay. But once checked in a lot of people followed the mask rules. But there where large groups that were enjoying the sun maskless.

    If they can get the airlines to prevent travel without a Covid-19 test that would help shore up the holes. Not sure how that would work.

    The local population must also work to prevent the spread. It is not the tourists fault. I saw a lot of maskless and mask below the nose folks that were not tourists. We are all in this boat together.

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