Inter-island travel returns, new resort bubble program starts
LIHU‘E — Tuesday marks the county’s return to kama‘aina travel and starts renewed options for those staying at a resort bubble property.
In early December, the county suspended its participation in the state’s Safe Travels program which allows travelers who provide a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of arrival to bypass a state-mandated 10-day quarantine.
Starting today, Kaua‘i is allowing the use of the program from those arriving from another island, regardless of residency. Out-of-state travelers, who spend at least three days on another island, will also be allowed to participate in this program with an additional test taken within 72 hours of arrival in Lihu‘e.
“If an out-of-state traveler arrives on O‘ahu at 8 a.m. Monday, he can take a pre-travel test from a Trusted Partner after 8 a.m. Thursday,” Mayor Derek Kawakami explained on Monday. “Once he receives a negative test result, the traveler can fly to Kaua‘i any time within 72 hours of taking that test.”
These tests, required for anyone 5 and older, must be through one of the state’s Trusted Testing and Travel Partners and uploaded to the Safe Travels app prior to boarding a flight.
If a trip to another county is made after the test is taken, the test will become invalid, according to the county’s rules.
“We have different quarantine rules for inter-island travelers and out-of-state travelers at this time because of the significantly different risks,” Kawakami said on Monday. “COVID-19 disease rates are many times higher on the mainland than in Hawai‘i, and therefore the risk is higher. Our rules recognize the different risk levels by adjusting the quarantine requirements.”
The state’s mandatory 10-day quarantine is effective until Feb. 20 through Gov. David Ige’s latest emergency proclamation.
From Oct. 1-14, inter-island travel was minimal, with zero arrivals coming onto Kaua‘i daily, according to the state’s Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism visitor statistics. With the launch of Safe Travels on Oct. 15, numbers rose, peaking at about 600 inter-island passengers per day arriving onto the island.
Then, while participating in Safe Travels in November, the county saw between 327 to 1,475 inter-island arrivals per day.
The county then suspended the Safe Travels program Dec. 2, after reporting an uptick in travel and community infections.
Excluding the first of the month, the county has seen inter-island arrivals from zero to a high of 96 per day in December, according to the state’s visitor statistics. On the highest day of Dec. 1, 2020, the state reported 1,004 people flew in.
In December 2019, the county saw between 1,280 to 3,419 fly in every day of the month.
Since the start of 2021, between 47 to 90 people flew onto Kaua‘i via another island. That’s about a 97.3% drop.
Resort bubble quarantine
Last week, Ige also approved the county’s Enhanced Movement Quarantine resort bubble program, which also starts today.
Travelers participating in the county’s Enhance Movement Quarantine program will need to have gotten a negative COVID-19 test prior to arrival. After a three-day quarantine, these travelers may take a post-travel test to be released.
“This program is independent of the state’s Safe Travels program,” Kawakami said, “so tests can be any COVID-19 diagnostic test, including antigen or PCR test, with an emergency use authorization from the FDA.”
Outside of these programs, travelers will be subject to the full 10-day quarantine without a post-travel testing opportunity, Kawakami said.
Residents may quarantine at home.
“We realize the Resort Bubble program is tailored to visitors and is not ideal for our residents,” Kawakami said in a press release when the rules were approved. “Our residents continue to be our highest priority. Now that our community has been able to enjoy the holiday season without a major surge in cases, we feel we are in a good position to loosen inter-island travel restrictions and offer more convenient opportunities to travel between islands.”
New arrival form
A new Kaua‘i Arrival form is required for individuals that are participating in a 10-day quarantine, staying at an enhanced movement quarantine property, those who have received modified quarantines or have a state exemption.
Those using the Safe Travels program are exempt. It’s instantly submitted, a county spokesperson said, “But if you can complete the form digitally by the time you arrive, it will save you time during the arrival screening process.”
The information will be used by law enforcement as a digital record of accommodations for quarantine compliance checks, as well as ensuring the property is not a vacation rental. Travelers subject to the quarantine may not rent a vehicle or stay in a short-term rental until after the quarantine period.
Forms are required for each arrival and individual, including children and minors and will be reviewed by the Kaua‘i Police Department and Hawai‘i National Guard upon arrival.
They are still on Tier 2 over on Oahu. On Kaua’i it is on Tier 4. But what good is that with only few passengers arriving. The hotels are pretty much still in limbo. Not getting by. I think it is going to be this way all the way until summer. A very slow start in the tourist industry. I do not see Kaua’i picking up momentum in the tourist arrivals any time soon. It is going to be this slow all the way until summer. 327 arrivals per day is not good. Really slow. A lot of broken down small businesses going out of business. About the only business doing good is Wal-Mart. Everyone shops at Wal-Mart. It is a family store and they shop there all the time. It won’t pick up so better stay home all the way until summer and enjoy the what ever going on there.
Just hope the changes aren’t too late. I just read about the layoffs at the Kauai Marriott. I miss my Kauai Ohana, and the place. It seems like this was the worst possible storm to hit the island. Take care.
Please explain the inconsistent requirement to us a “trusted Partner” COVID test when traveling from another island after a minimum 3 day period on that island, while of staying at one of the favored “bubble” resorts for 3 days you can take Any FDA approved COVID test. This makes no sense.
I’m assuming because the test will be taken on Kauai and the county knows of all available testing facilities and protocols.
This is one of the most discriminatory rules yet. We own a residence on Kauai and pay property and other taxes. I cant fly to Kauai with a negative preflight COVID test and stay at our residence for 3 days and then take another COVID test to get out of quarantine…..why?
Better question is why would I get a COVID test before coming to Kauai if there is no benefit to me for doing so? Why cant we be treated equally to travelers that stay at a bubble property? Fact of the matter is that the visitors that stay at a bubble property are more apt to introduce the virus than someone quarantining at their residence. The workers at the bubble property come into contact with the travelers and surfaces they touch. Nobody comes into contact with a resident that is quarantined in their residence.
Given the rule the way it is, we should not get a negative pre-travel COVID test because it offers us no benefit. BAD rule that lack sound reasoning and it will lead to increased risk.
Maybe you cannot stay at your own home or rent it as a TVR because the big luxury hotels make political contributions to elected officials AND YOU DON’t.
Right on, Michael. Got to pay to play.
I’m assuming because it easier to track people entering and leaving a resort bubble then it is to track residents across the island who might choose to violate the quarantine.
The reason for the pre-test is to make sure you have tested negative before boarding the plane from the mainland in the first place. They will not let you board a plane to hawaii without a negative pre-test. This addressed the issue of people flying to Hawaii (Kauai) without their pre-travel test results, then testing positive upon arrival. Those people possibly exposed the whole flight to the virus. I do agree that quarantining at a residence is way safer than at a “resort bubble”, but then again, Nothing really makes sense anymore..
no thanks!…. too many other places to visit…..
I do not understand.
Your vaccine article on this issue states that “According to the state’s Department of Health, the state has an average daily new case count of 134 and a 3.4% positivity rate. The state’s infection rate is reported as one of the highest in the country. According to rt.live, which tracks COVID spread, Hawai‘i is the fourth-worst state for spread, after Maine, Iowa and New York.”
In this article, Mayor Kawakami states that “COVID-19 disease rates are many times higher on the mainland than in Hawai‘i, and therefore the risk is higher. Our rules recognize the different risk levels by adjusting the quarantine requirements.”
Which is it? Do the islands have a low infection rate or a high infection rate??
ALSO, something else is not made clear: “If an out-of-state traveler arrives on O‘ahu at 8 a.m. Monday, he can take a pre-travel test from a Trusted Partner after 8 a.m. Thursday,” Mayor Derek Kawakami explained on Monday. “Once he receives a negative test result, the traveler can fly to Kaua‘i any time within 72 hours of taking that test.” Can we assume that that out-of-state traveler has taken a pre-travel test 72 or less hours before flying from a “trusted” Covid test site to Oahu? That is not made clear in this article.
ALSO, why cannot Travelers subject to the quarantine stay in a short-term rental until after the quarantine period? Seems a whole lot safer than gathering all quarantining arrivals, some of whom just arrived without a pre-test and others who are about to be released after 10 days, together with residents who live or work at one of these “bubble” properties, potentially creating a Covid spreading situation.
Who is in charge here? The shareholders in the “bubble” resorts?
I don’t get this statement: “According to the state’s Department of Health, the state has an average daily new case count of 134 and a 3.4% positivity rate. The state’s infection rate is reported as one of the highest in the country. According to rt.live, which tracks COVID spread, Hawai‘i is the fourth-worst state for spread, after Maine, Iowa and New York.”
CDC list Hawaii is the lowest cases in the nation 9.7% over 100K.
Please explain. Mahalo
Kawakami is the worst! Non of these rules are logical and only put money in the hands of government and large corporations like Hyatt, Marriot etc. All local businesses are left high and dry. I can’t believe we elected the privileged heir of a grocery store chain into office. No sense of business or economics. Sit back and let the government take care of you. Kawakami has no idea what it’s like to work for something he’s been spoon fed his whole life.
I agree with you 100%. About kawakami. The only thing inaccurate is that the Hyatt is benefiting. They are still closed and will remain closed until they can actually get enough reservations to open up and run their resort. He’s a spoiled little bubble boy. And you can tell by the way he handles criticism. Anyone who hasn’t dealt with adversity in their gets offended when criticized. He’s a cry baby. And his wife is the gatekeeper for the Instagram echo chamber.
Why are residents treated as second rate citizens compared to tourists who vacation in high priced resorts? Why can’t I, as a taxpaying Hawaii resident, get a COVID test after quarantining in my home for three days and officially receive my release from home arrest? Mayor, please take care of your ohana.
How do you use PDF creator again? Front Page would work too, sigh.
This is a joke. It’s like going to cold war era passports when you can just afix anyone’s photo to a fake passport.
And if you are incompetent enough not to know how to use a computer you can just fake test the home covid test.
I feel like they haven’t even tried to pretend like this was a real attempt to prevent virus entry to the island. So close to the vaccine, I feel for those who will fall so close to the end.
Good luck to all of us.
I’m SURE this plan is based on ‘science’. After all, as someone mentioned, the plan was developed under the direction of a spoon-fed privileged heir of a grocery store chain and his top henchman. Highly qualified in matters of pandemic response.
Nobody will sign up for this for their vacation. Nobody.
Months ago I suggested giving medical grade PPE to those at risk, teach them how to use it, and open up the islands. Now you can add a vaccine as part of that plan. Simple. Effective. Actually based on science. We’re waiting.
The average and low income people will continue to get hurt. With higher taxes coming the next few years only the wealthy will be able to afford to live in Kauai. Open up.
I cant seem to find any hint of a county subsidy for this program? Does that mean I would have to pay full price for my 3 nights?
I can sortof understand the controlled environment for the testing range but the lack of balance here makes it stink of cash-grab.