Kaua‘i proposes rule independent of state’s Safe Travels

LIHU‘E — The county is seeking approval to create a post-travel resort bubble program that would allow incoming travelers to test out of the quarantine after three days.

If approved by Gov. David Ige, incoming travelers with a negative pre-travel test staying at a county-approved resort bubble property would be able to bypass the state-mandated 10-day quarantine with a negative post-arrival COVID-19 test taken after at least three days on island.

It’s a program that would be independent of the state’s Safe Travels program, and would allow travelers to take COVID-19 tests that are not included in the state’s trusted partners for both the pre-travel and post-travel test as long as it has received U.S. Food and Drug Administration emergency use authorization.

This program, if approved, would go into effect Tuesday, January 5, 2021.

“We recognize this is not what we asked for, but we see this as progress toward our effort to allow more incoming travelers to Kaua‘i while keeping our residents safe,” Mayor Derek Kawakami said in his COVID-19 briefing Wednesday.

This voluntary program, Kawakami said, is specific to those staying in resort bubbles, regardless of residency or origin. Travelers would need to seek their own post-arrival test at their cost, a county spokesperson said.

“Otherwise, travelers can still quarantine for the 10 days at a private residence or non-resort bubble hotels and motels,” he said.

Rule 24 stems from Ige’s rejection of a mandatory post-travel test with three-day quarantine for all arrivals Kawakami proposed prior.

“Ultimately, Rule 21 was not approved but we have continued to work with Governor Ige, who expressed support for implementing a post-travel testing program for Enhanced Movement Quarantine properties,” Kawakami said Wednesday.

On Dec. 2, the county temporarily suspended its participation in the state’s Safe Travels program which allows travelers to bypass a 10-day quarantine with a negative COVID-19 pre-test. This rule was requested after the county reported a two-week trend of infections increases by over 43%.

The Kaua‘i Police Department and Hawai‘i National Guard are monitoring about 2,000 people in travel-related quarantine, Kawakami said.

The county has six approved Enhanced Movement Quarantine resort bubble properties, including The Cliffs at Princeville, Hilton Garden Inn Kaua‘i Wailua Bay, Ko‘a Kea Hotel &Resort at Po‘ipu, The Club at Kukui‘ula, Timbers Kaua‘i Ocean Club at Hoku‘ala and Kaua‘i Marriott Resort at Kalapaki Bay.

There, guests have use of on-site amenities, like golf courses, spas and dining facilities. Stays at these locations are monitored with tracking bracelets that if tampered with would alert security.

37 Comments
  1. Kapa’a Ken December 24, 2020 3:52 am Reply

    Mayor Derek,

    How will you protect the full time residents of these bubble communities being populated with suspect visitors? Or do you plan to impose security bracelets on them and treat all like criminals? Will they be tested frequently so they aren’t taking a virus home. The only people that will use these bubbles are locals unfortunate enough to need to make Interisland trips, perhaps for health care on Oahu or other necessary reasons. No tourists (the economic engine that makes life on Kauai beyond that of a subsistence farmer possible) will ever come and spend their hard earned savings to experience a 3 day quarantine in a minimum security prison “bubble”. What is Maui and Hawaii doing that allowed them to reopen their islands? Why not use that model?

    I suggest you do the smart thing, the grownup thing, and open the county pockets to require and PAY for a follow up test for ALL visitors 3 days (or whatever interval you want) after arrival to manage this relatively small risk WITHOUT QUARANTINE. Discourage community movement during this three day period. Manage the very small number of pre-travel confirmed negative cases that are discovered by this follow up test with proven contact tracing and county provided dedicated quarantine facilities for those found infected and their close contacts). The tax income generated by these visitors welcomed back to Kauai, and the very disproportinate property taxes imposed on real estate that supports visitors, will more than offset these modest costs.

    Use you abundant energy to bolster on-island surge capacity for healthcare and ramp up your preaching of safe practices to prevent community spread with everyone on island (especially for the recalcitrant locals) and require the airlines to read this message to all arriving passengers to level set their minds.

    Execute solutions that reasonably work for all parties, that’s what good leaders and good government does.


    1. Dana December 25, 2020 11:37 am Reply

      100% agree.


      1. kathryn H December 28, 2020 5:12 pm Reply

        I own on Island and would take a test 3 days after and pay for it. Please help owners up keep their properties. Kauai is falling apart. The Bubble thing is insane and very expensive.


    2. Jim December 26, 2020 1:05 pm Reply

      Absolutely agree.
      We were scheduled to come to Kauai in December but rescheduled to January due to the quarantine. We love Kauai but If the mayor gets his way then we will either cancel or go to Maui or the Big Island.


    3. Nicole J Birkhold December 30, 2020 10:05 am Reply

      I totally agree. As an owner of a condo on the island, the last thing I want to do is come to my home and have to quarantine in a hotel room a few miles down the road. I would even quarantine in my place for three days and pay out of pocket for a post-arrival test. But I can’t stomach coming to the island I love and not being able to stay in the home I love… and paying out of pocket to be in a hotel room. It makes the budget of my trip untenable. I’m lucky to be able to own a small condo there, but that doesn’t mean I can make all of the financial concessions this program is asking… taking my vacation budget and spending it elsewhere than in the home I have there and in the businesses I love. If I could stay for multiple weeks, this might be okay, but to have half of my trip taken up in a random hotel room doesn’t work. 🙁


  2. nobody December 24, 2020 6:50 am Reply

    Kauai has to come up with something different soon.

    If not, and the rest of the state still isn’t having a surge, we might deem the State’s current Safe Travel program a success and rejoin it.


  3. Kauaidoug December 24, 2020 7:57 am Reply

    Does anyone really think tourists, #1 will want to come here ,2 then qurantine, 3 then PAY for their own test , not to mention 4 GO somewhere for their test ,5 wait for the results ?

    I see a lot of holes in this program. Period

    Good idea if anyone will do it but I don’t think so

    I’ve been with you Mayor K but reading comments by tourists on the different Hawaii tourism online magazines indicate they don’t want to travel with the qurantine issues. Reading those comments will give you a pretty good idea of the petulant mindset of the traveler. Most only care about their own vacations, NOT us, my friends. Sad but true.

    Vaccines are on the way, their will be a new sheriff and Mayor K is doing his best with an incredibly difficult situation.

    Mele Kalikimaka everyone!


  4. Mikey December 24, 2020 8:34 am Reply

    Wow here we go again. Haven’t we learned look at the numbers Mayor. We are back to almost zero and you want to implement the new travel proposal. You know it is not the right thing to do Look at the numbers of cases just alone in California people are dropping like flys. Please don’t fold to the financial pressures because you you will be ultimately responsible for people unnecessarily dying. How about getting us all the vaccine first then open up the gates.


    1. Joey December 24, 2020 6:05 pm Reply

      Cases do not equal death count. Look beyond mainstream media’s fear porn they are peddling on a 24/7 basis.


    2. Khsgrad December 25, 2020 8:56 am Reply

      This virus has a 99% cure rate- my goodness no o e can hide from the invisible boogeyman forever. I am seeking my house (to a Haole for sure) and never looking back- Hawaii and their Democrats and cradle to grave philosophy is ridiculous!!


      1. homer December 26, 2020 11:40 am Reply

        Let’s follow your logic and see:
        Would you get on a plane if someone told you that 1 in a 100 planes crash?
        Thus would it be acceptable for you to see 50 plane crashes a day?
        Furthermore, since you seem to totally ignore those surviving serious illness which is 10 times as many as those who die – would you get on a plane if you thought you had 10% chance of being seriously injured.
        And finally since you seem to have such a cavalier approach to Darwinism – and consider old people (the 1% you are referring to) who most likely contributed their entire live so you can enjoy the economic prosperity and freedom – totally dispensable what does it really tell that about yourself. What if they were the ones who said – you know it’s just so hard to go to a war or it’s just so hard to work all life so we can have this prosperous society.
        Look yourself in the mirror – hope you are so proud of yourself.


  5. drsurf December 24, 2020 8:55 am Reply

    What about beach usage fronting the resorts? Visitors just look for 3 days?


  6. Bubble boy December 24, 2020 9:06 am Reply

    Derek “bubble boy” kawakami still pushing for the bubble resort to be involved in mandating incoming visitors to stay at a “county” partnered resort. How obvious is it that they need to recoup the money spent or promises made to these resorts that put up the money for geo fencing and tracking devices. Why do you think they hyatt, Marriots, Sheraton and many others didn’t bite on this bubble idea. Because it was not a good investment and has too many holes in the logistics mixing staff with guests, with some leaving and incoming on a daily basis. It was a dumb idea. And still proves to be. Get over it Derek. This idea was destined to fail since its inception. Chalk it up as another failed attempt at providing meaningful leadership to the majority of your constituents. How about bolstering our hospitals and clinics to handle more cases. The vaccine isn’t the answer in the short term. Merry Christmas


  7. J.D. December 24, 2020 9:13 am Reply

    Most people will not come until restrictions are gone. Do we not worry and grieve for people unless they are one of the very few that die from covid. What about suicides?


    1. J.D. December 26, 2020 9:40 am Reply

      What about car accidents? Should we ban transportation? A person died from a shark attack recently? We better ban people from the ocean.


      1. Leroy February 2, 2021 5:18 pm Reply

        Jd, pull your head out. Can you now be thankful we are in a Kauai bubble? I am, yes we are struggling for $$, but I think the mayor has our best interests in mind. Nobody wants a pandemic or to give up so much but it will pass with our great effort.. hopefully! Aloha


  8. Chamundi Sabanathan December 24, 2020 9:20 am Reply

    If guests in those resort bubbles would be mingling freely, what’s to stop a 3rd-day person from becoming infected by a first-day person? He would still test negative, on his first day of infection, and would then leave the bubble to infect residents.


  9. Marko December 24, 2020 9:30 am Reply

    Great plan- hope it is a go!!!


  10. John December 24, 2020 11:11 am Reply

    Kawakami is under immense pressure from Big Tourism lobbyists (airlines, hotels) to open Kauai back up to tourism. If he doesn’t, they will financially support another candidate next mayoral election. He is willing to kill the citizens of our island just so these fat-cats can make more money and he can get re-elected.

    His friends in the local GMO plantations also want to buy out people’s properties here, so releasing Covid into our community is also part of his bigger long-term plan. The sicker and poorer we become, the easier it is for them to buy our land for cheap. This is methodical GENOCIDE, and I wish to god that someone will investigate Kawakami and his offshore bank accounts for what he is doing to us.


  11. Michelle December 24, 2020 1:04 pm Reply

    You are telling me that a visitor to my island that stays at these preferred hotels can test out after 3 days, meanwhile kauai residents do not have the same rights. You won’t allow us to test out of our own hawaiian homes. No humans should have more rights than others.


    1. Piko December 25, 2020 5:59 am Reply

      I think the issue is enforcement; when someone is staying at these resorts they are being monitored, of someone were to quarantine at home then KPD would be responsible for keeping tabs on them. This way it is much less taxing on local resources, having the visitors essentially paying to monitor them.


      1. kathryn H December 28, 2020 5:19 pm Reply

        I can buy a bracelet and wear at my house.


    2. Jeff S. December 25, 2020 9:25 pm Reply

      “my island” Really? No visitors allowed at my Colorado.


      1. Michelle December 26, 2020 5:02 pm Reply

        Jeff S. I can edit the “my” to the island or county of kauai. My statement is misunderstood. As resident here, we cannot interisland travel or go to the mainland without a 10 day stay in our houses upon return. However a visitor from anywhere can test out of a bubble resort after 3 days. The citizens of kauai do not have the same rights as a visitor under this program. Many of us would love to travel for funerals etc, but we cannot without 10 day house arrest. We would gladly take covid tests but are not given the opportunity unless we go to a bubble resort, not our own homes. This is not my island, but my home, and for now we cannot leave.


    3. kathryn H December 28, 2020 5:17 pm Reply

      agree !!!!


  12. Aloha808 December 24, 2020 2:15 pm Reply

    Again, why make travelers pay for their post-arrival test, you know that you have CARES Act monies that should be used for this. You are just deterring visitors from wanting to come to Kauai – again, and again. You know there is no money coming in to the island, you know that people are sick of this. You know the people who bought homes here are selling their homes at top prices and moving away because they are over this closed off island where they can’t make a living. The County’s reserve fund covered the budget shortfall this time, but you can’t continue thinking that the island can survive without tourists, and that the reserve fund can always be dipped into. Put on your basic Economics 101 thinking cap please.


  13. What? December 24, 2020 2:40 pm Reply

    The Safe travels program was set up to fail from the beginning. Allowing people to take the tests and get on the plane prier to getting the results was the single stupidest nonsense of anything so far during this plandemic. On the second day of the of pre travel testing i gave a ride from the airport to my 15 year old neighbors son. He got his negative test results back during the flight to Kauai but did not know this until he landed. First thing he said this is never going to work, then asked me is what would have happened if he landed with a positive result, What would they have done to me or the people sitting next to me?
    THe point is !!!!! A fifteen year old figured this out the first day, sorry second day and DK and the rest of his geniuses had months to think about this. REALLY!!!
    And this travel bubble at the CLiffs in PV, THere are full time residents living there, i know cause i used to be one . Were they asked if this was ok , probably not.
    My conspiracy theory is that DK and his crew knew the pretesting nonsense would result in this out come had no intention, what so ever, to open this back up again for christmas season.


  14. Simple Solutions December 25, 2020 12:21 am Reply

    Here we go again with the “Bubble Resorts”…why is the mayor so enamored on this idea? Are bubble resorts the best idea he can come up with? Does he honestly thing this is going to work or is he actively trying to destroy the remaining businesses on Kauai? Does he get kickbacks from the bubble resorts? I just do not get it….who is going to pay $400 per night minimum to be confined for three days? Your bubble resorts are open right now and nobody is coming.

    If public safety and increasing tourism to the island, why doesn’t the mayor include that resorts can not charge more than $100 per night including taxes during quarantine? That would definitely increase demand and travel to the island but the resorts would never go for that….it is better to close (see Hyatt and Sheraton) than to open with any post-travel restrictions.

    If Mayor Kawakami is going to make post-travel test mandatory for all travelers (residents and tourists) can he tell us how he is going to do that with 2000 people arriving every day of the week? We didn’t have the resources to test the 700 people that arrived during safe travels in November, what makes anyone think it is possible to get enough rapid result tests (we can’t wait for another 3 to 4 days for results) and think that Kauai has the facilities and people to process the tests.

    What about the logistics of mandatory post-travel testing? How do we get people without cars to the testing centers and what about the traffic nightmares mandatory testing would make?

    We need to get back to a modified safe travel program with proof of a negative covid test within 72 hours of “boarding a plane” bound for Hawaii; voluntary 3 day sheltering in place upon arrival; free testing for everyone (resident or not) for people who are symptomatic; and contact tracing following a positive result.

    Mayor Kawakami….I hate to burst your bubble….but we need tourist right now….we need our jobs….and we need our dignity back.


    1. kathryn H December 28, 2020 5:36 pm Reply

      You are so right


  15. Mitch December 25, 2020 5:53 am Reply

    Bubble resorts are risky for anyone who stays or works in the hotel there whether it be 3 nights of 10 nights. The continuous turnover of guests would increase exposure risk for both resort guests and staff. On the other hand a 72 or 96 hour pre-travel test followed by a true quarantine in a hotel room, a private home (residents) or even a TVR with appropriate monitoring would be far safer for both the community and the visitors. Ideally rapid testing would continue daily during the quarantine (technology to accomplish this is now available). The three day quarantine must be followed by a PCR test. This combination would satisfy current CDC guidelines. If the three day program leads to an increase in the positivity rate, the Mayor could then either stop the program or increase quarantine to longer periods.


  16. Uroradman December 25, 2020 6:23 am Reply

    Dear Mayor,

    I am a physician who delivers care in a rural hospital that also services two Indian Reservations. I am currently vaccinated for COVID since I am a front line provider. Why do I, as a Kauai resident, need to do a full quarantine when I return, when a tourist can land on Island and get concierge treatment? I’m not really interested in spending my time at the Big Boxes or restaurants, but would like to hike in a socially isolated place for my well being. Please look after your constituents, your law abiding citizens and your taxpayers. Mahalo.


  17. Bobby December 25, 2020 11:08 am Reply

    The Mayor may be the least intelligent politician on the planet. The Cliff’s in Princeville has permanent residents in their 70’s and 80’s. What are they supposed to do while arrivals are using their facilities before they get test results. Then what happens after a positive test result? Who will pay for every resident to get tested? Mayor Derek, you are a complete idiot and a fool. No tourist is going to come to Kauai and risk getting a positive test while in abubble, which is fine. If you want to protect everyone and stay shut, you can do so at the expense of jobs and business, but do not pretend you are restoring tourism with this asinine bubble proclamation. Wow…what a disappointment Derek.


  18. Peter December 26, 2020 7:25 am Reply

    Mr. Derek “Bubbly Boy” Kawakami is doing what a majority of the island’s voting residents want him to do. Keep the island as free from the virus as possible no matter what the financial consequences.
    There is a lot of talk (and some hysteria) about the dangers of this virus, but there is very little focus on the economic consequences. There is an assumption that the island’s economy will return to normal once the vaccine helps the world, or at least the mainland, reach herd immunity.
    Will it ? Or has the island’s economy been fundamentally damaged ?


  19. commonsense December 26, 2020 9:24 am Reply

    The Resort Bubble plan is a scam that will not help tourism, local small businesses or anyone not involved with these resorts. I work at one of these resorts and can tell you that it is not working. Terrible idea by a narrow-minded, politically driven Mayor.


  20. James December 26, 2020 10:00 pm Reply

    Pretty much sick and tired of these ‘new ideas’ and ‘proposals’. Who are you kidding?
    This means really you have no real intention of providing a sensible solution to what is safe enough for our community and also brings the lifeblood of this island, ie, tourism, (in case you have missed that). Please quit with this ridiculous proposals that is as flawed as the initial
    safe travels attempt that was doomed to fail on this island specifically. You are wasting our time. How about also considering saving the businesses that make this island have an economy. Never hear any proposals integrating travel and businesses to stay ‘alive’ and people employed. I guess to complicated…


  21. Meg December 27, 2020 11:05 am Reply

    We spend Jan -Mar in Kauai in a rented condo. We respect the people of Kauai and would be willing to have a preflight Covid test (with negative results), and quarantine in our condo for 3-10 days. We could check in daily if that would help. Order food delivery and take another Covid test covered by the county or our insurance. A bubble hotel with guests using all the facilities is just asking for more Covid cases. $400+ a night is cost prohibitive to travelers who have prepaid condo rentals, car rentals, and airline tickets. Please consider allowing tourists to quarantine in their condos as described before.


  22. Steve January 2, 2021 9:34 am Reply

    Hey Mayor
    Just look at all of the closed small businesses and for rent signs. Each one represents extreme upheaval for families and workers and investors. Follow the science, there is no correlation between lockdown and COVID cases ie L.A.
    The other islands are doing ok. You’re just pushing the same button harder and it’s still not working.


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