Hawaii requires anyone arriving in the islands to quarantine for 14 days unless they bring a negative Covid-19 test from a trusted partner with them. It has to be a nucleic acid test from a trusted partner taken within 72 hours of departure. The types of available tests, and which providers qualify can be confusing. For instance the partner American Airlines uses for testing isn’t on the list, but American itself is a partner so the partner of a partner is fine.
CVS Pharmacy is a trusted partner for Hawaii, and one San Diego family got their CVS test prior to travel. They arrived in Hawaii, presented their negative results, and were sent to quarantine anyway.
Hawaiian health officials did not accept their tests and said that her family was instructed to quarantine for 14 days in their room at their resort.
“[The resort staff said] if we see you out at all we’re going to call the Hawaiian Police Department and you will go to jail,” she told ABC10 News. “I didn’t pack much of anything for my son. I had some diapers and some things but I was thinking I was going to buy all that stuff in Hawaii.”
Facing the prospect of 14 days of quarantine, they decided to fly home. Hawaii allows people to leave rather than quarantine because as much as they need tourism dollars they don’t much like tourists.
Once the family arrived home in California, they received an email:
[Hawaiian health officials] reread our COVID tests and they actually are valid and we could be immediately released from quarantine.. “Aloha, your COVID test has been read and you have been released from quarantine.”
Since the beginning of the pandemic I’ve written that one of the biggest challenges in the face of travel is regime uncertainty. A destination needs to be open so that there’s something to do once you get there. But that’s not enough. The rules need to be clear, and there needs to be confidence they’ll be applied correctly and won’t change on a dime.
Right now it’s tough to know not just the course of the virus, but what rules will be when it comes time to travel. You might buy a ticket and a destination closes as the travel date approaches, or their rules for entry might change. A new quarantine requirement might be imposed by someone’s home state, so they’ll have to isolate themselves for two weeks on their return.
Specific rules keep changing and that makes it nearly impossible to plan ahead, and even to travel when the departure date arrives because rules may change during a trip. Hawaii’s rules have changed every single time they’ve announced a plan for re-opening. And now they’re not even managing the rules they do have consistently so that people have confidence they can rely on the rules once they land.