Hawaii’s Big Island Opts Out Of October 15 Tourist Re-Opening, While Maui Is Still Deciding

We’re only a week away from Hawaii’s announced October 15 re-opening. The state has said they’d allow arriving passengers to skip 14-day quarantine with a negative Covid-19 test from the past 72 hours. Airlines including United, Hawaiian, Alaska and American have set up testing regimes to help open up travel to the islands.

Already Hawaii’s plan is partially unraveling.

Hawaii island Mayor Harry Kim said he is opting out of the state’s pre-travel testing program starting on Oct. 15, which means mainland visitors going to the Big Island still will be required to quarantine for 14 days.

…On Monday, Gov. David Ige gave each county the option to opt out of the program that would allow travelers who test negative to avoid the state’s mandatory 14-day quarantine, after denying Kauai County’s proposal to establish a post-travel testing program to supplement the state’s program.

…Brian Perry, spokesman for Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino, declined to say whether the county would be participating in the state’s pre-travel testing program, but said it is “continuing to work on these issues with the governor.”

I’ve written that one of the biggest barriers to travel now is regime uncertainty. It’s not clear when buying a ticket for a destination that’s supposed to be open whether it will be open when it comes time to travel. Or whether a new quarantine requirement might be imposed but 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. Here anyone that trusted the Governor’s October 15 re-opening plan inending to travel to the Big Island, despite past announcements not coming to fruition, now finds themselves potentially a week away from their trip with the rug pulled out from under them. And will they even hear of the change before showing up to the airport to fly to Kona?

Meanwhile restrictions on inter-island travel remain in place through the end of October, so it’s not clear what will be possible for visitors looking to travel to multiple islands such as visiting a major tourist locale and more remote destinations. The pandemic yo-yo continues…

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. […] Like many other tourist destinations, Hawaii is trying to decide how to proceed with opening their doors again.  As of October 15th, in 2 days, Hawaii is supposed to begin allowing tourists without the 14 day quarantine, as long as you have an FDA-authorized nucleic acid amplification test from a certified lab.  That all being said, it looks like The Big island is not going to allow this test and Maui is still deciding what to do.  Below are a few articles to update you on the latest entry restrictions into Hawaii….We will all figure COVID and travel out eventually   Hawaii GuideInside HookCivil BeatView from the Wing […]


  1. Hopefully none of your readers were dumb enough to think this was going to work this time.
    Why don’t they just dust off the wonderful travel bubble idea again instead . . . everyone wants to confine themselves to an overpriced resort and wear a house arrest monitoring device.

  2. “Testing regimes”? “Regime uncertainty”? Perhaps you had better look that work up or maybe just say “program”.

  3. Rapid testing is not the answer. While the Demos have pushed for it, ask yourself why Congressional leadership never wanted it done in the House or Senate. It was offered, but refused. If you are in the “lucky” 10% who have already been exposed to COVID and survived with immunity, Aloha! Else, you may just bring something to Hawaii other than tourist dollars, despite those rapid tests.

  4. Sounds like its time for AA to deploy even more widebodies to Florida!

    It’s not Hawaii, but the consistency of Florida in the pandemic makes it a wise place you can actually plan travel to.

  5. I currently have five leisure trips to Florida planned for this year and early next year. From ORD to Florida 2 1/2 to 3 hours. To HNL 9 hours. Why would I try to fly to Hawaii with the rules change almost daily?

  6. So AZ is seeing a rise in hotel bookings and flights since Hawaii can’t get over itself. Welcome to the Grand Canyon state folks, just bring your mask and wear it. Happy to have you here.

  7. Given the drip, drip, drip of changing pandemic guidance in Hawaii and other states, the slow death of the tourism and airline industries, there’s little reason to travel long-haul to be placed in quarantine for 14 days.
    Does anyone actually think that airline travel and tourism will return to normal once a coronavirus vaccine is available? It will likely take some years for any semblance of normality to occur. Many restaurants and businesses in Hawaii are now closing for good, and many of the workers dependent upon tourism are leaving the islands.

  8. Update this morning — Mayor Harry Kim walked back and said he wants to have a second test on arrival and third test in 2-3 days, with quarantine lifted after a negative on the second test. Says he’s negotiating with governor Ige about it… So still undecided, which may be even worse than just no.

  9. Let’s face it, this is just long-simmering hatred of the tourist business manifesting itself now that there is an outlet for action. It’s not just about quarantine requirements.
    What Hawaii really wants is tourist money, but they don’t want anyone to stay permanently, stay in a vacation rental, stay outside of a resort bubble, go to public lands, drive around (because they cause traffic), or generally do anything that tourists do.

  10. One of the real issues facing Hawaii is medical facilities. And due to its “remote” location, it isn’t as if you can drive a bit and get resources/help from another state.

    I don’t know and won’t pretend to know the solution until all this is over, years down the road, but a vacation in Hawaii is not anything anyone has to do. My one visit to Hawaii didn’t impress me and at that time living on the east coast there are tons better places to visit that require much less travel.

    I’d be happier if Americans improved their behavior but too many nuts out there.

  11. We planed a visit to the big island back in jan.2 grown children and a grand child going with us nov1st. Had to cancell condo sep 1st or lose 3 grand.new rules no quarenteen with test,rebooked condo now big island not playing. Will cancell condo lose 3k cancell car and air tics.don’t know if I will ever go again

  12. Well, have a trip to the BI for Thanksgiving. Not good to see that, at least for the time being, they’re not going to participate in the test option. But we’ll still have 1.5 months for this to get worked out. And everything is cancellable. We shall see.


  13. I’m pretty sure the Constitution didn’t get suspended because of covid. Fly to Hawaii, be safe, be smart and remember they are rules not laws and if the want to be dictators try and do anything illegal, sue and maybe smack them.

  14. Most of the mayors pushing for additional testing. I smell lot of money to be made with potential sweetheart deal/contracts on Cov tests. Follow the $$$.

  15. Thank the imbecilic liar in chief for completely bungling Covid from the get go. 210000 dead thus far, hundreds of thousands of businesses closed, the real economy in shambles, and DC in total chaos. This is what you get when you put an unfit psychopath in charge. If you voted for this guy, you need to see a therapist.

  16. We are set to travel to Maui Oc16TH
    Tests booked and paid for. We will cancel if we were now forced to quarantine. Why they don’t trust the lieutenant govenor I don’t get it.

  17. The only people we have to blame is ourselves we are the idiots that voted these people into office this is what we get and this is what we deserve get out and vote make this state run like a business

  18. Hawaii leadership is completely insane. All they’ve done is delay the virus getting to them the virus is still going to get to them it’s still going to kill some people but it’s not going to kill many look at the CDC numbers ages 0 to 24 coronavirus has killed less people in the world than the normal flu kills every year in the world so why are we so worried about Trump and all this stuff and Hawaii is a very outside culture it is not a culture where people are trapped inside small spaces together these leaders cannot keep delaying what’s going to obviously happen. They’ve delayed 8 months and they’re still going to get the virus eventually. Let it happen let the people get immunity and stop being idiots open up your businesses and State

  19. Oddly, one would think this would be an ideal time to pick up a vacation property on Oahu. You’d be disappointed that it’s a seller’s market.

    “September’s median sale price was 13% above the year-earlier figure of $770,000 and doused the prior record of $839,000 from August.”

  20. Hawaii is going to have a massive shake out in terms of their economy – what else is new? They have created an unsustainable model based on tourism. I first visited the islands in 1990 and I see it’s trending in the same direction as San Francisco. Super high rents and house prices with their being only two classes of local population – the very wealthy and those that serve them in any number of capacities – don’t forget the homeless population.The middle class is dwindling away both in Calif and Hawaii. Hawaii survives on tourism, the military and some say construction. Where do the young just out of school go to build a life – the mainland. The golden days of Hawaii are over – sad but true. This covid pandemic has brought all of the inherent economic weaknesses of Hawaii to the surface to see. Even with a vaccine I would be hesitant to book any travel to the island until at least 2024 and beyond. Too many unknowns that will continue to spook the state “leadership” – be it a covid resurgence or a new strain of the flu. Good luck…..

  21. Im trying to move Hawaii and these rule changes have been nitemare to navigate. I’ve rebooked airfare three times. Rescheduled my rapid test twice. Soon to cancel again…it seems.

    Feeling pretty burned. Hawaii shouldn’t have announced policies it has no intentions to keep. Aug 1, Sept 1, Oct 1, now Oct 15- all announced and then with 7-9 days before becoming effective- cancelled.

    I respect public safety and these decisions in general, but just say you’re closed for 3 months. Make plans you’re going to keep. Stop jerking around people.

    Also, some of the rules make no sense. I can’t rent a car (until I purchase one) and stay in a 30 day Airbnb isolated sans maybe one grocery store run… But I could take an Uber with a local to a friends house and stay in their house for two weeks. How’s that make any sense…

  22. From Mayor’s statement 10/7/20:
    “The State has made it clear that they want to move forward with the pre-travel testing program, without the second test,” Mayor Victorino said. “Many of our businesses and working families are struggling, so we are moving forward with the transpacific program. However, we need to do everything we can to protect our citizens, healthcare resources and especially high-risk populations. We look forward to learning more from the State on the development of its contact tracing app and surveillance testing plan for travelers.”

    Sounds like they are going through with it…

  23. Trying to rebook a pre travel test with one of the trusted partners has been a challenge. Only Vault is set up. We have reservations 4 the 16TH.

  24. I have been waiting to get over to Hilo , as my sister is in hospice and it doesn’t look like she will make it. We booked air, hotel, car, and now looks like we will lose it all. Not happy, the mayor’s office said that its to bad and they’re not making any exceptions. We were going to have a COVID-19 test done before we left to prove we don’t have Covid-19. I wonder how these people that are running these programs would feel if this was happening to them. Last thing they won’t even return a phone call. I was born and raised in Hawaii and am now living on the mainland. All this stuff makes me sick.

  25. I have a trip planned in 8 days that I keep going back and forth about canceling. I thought the big island for sure opted out of the pre-travel testing and now things are back up in the air with them possibly doing second rounds of tests? I think a definitive no would have been much better!

    Alaska isn’t doing fabulous but I will say that having people test before arrival has been helpful. We also are testing after 7 days of them being in the state. Maybe just maybe Hawaii will do the same?

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