Kauai Rebels Against Hawaii’s Re-Opening Plan

Hawaii has required everyone arriving in the state to quarantine for 14 days. They’ve put off plans to re-open tourism until October 15. At that point they’ll allow visitors with a negative Covid test within 3 days of arrival to skip quarantine.

The state isn’t offering testing on arrival, but several airlines are working to make convenient testing available to passengers. United was first announcing on-airport testing in San Francisco. Hawaiian, American, and Alaska all followed with testing programs.

The island of Kauai, though, isn’t satisfied and doesn’t want to participate. A passenger who was covid-free three days prior to arrival isn’t necessary covid-free when they get to Hawaii. They could even be exposed on their journey, and wouldn’t test when they landed (if that were even being done). So they don’t want to allow visitors on the same basis as the rest of the state.

Instead their plan is to require re-testing three days after arrival. Arriving passengers would still have to quarantine until they received a negative result from that test. While waiting for quarantine visitors would be able to stay on property at resorts with full use of facilities.

  • Once there’s community spread of the virus, total eradication is virtually impossible. And it’s certainly impossible while also allowing for a return to normalcy. The goal should always be bringing back as much of regular life as possible without overwhelming hospitals to where care is compromised, and medical workers’ lives are put at risk.

  • Kauai’s plan appears to require approval from the governor, whose orders otherwise would override any requirements instituted by the island’s mayor. Here in Texas the governor’s orders have superceded those of cities, and limited the ability of local public health authorities to impose requirements stricter than those in Texas-wide re-opening orders.

  • Even Kauai’s plan isn’t fully secure, since quarantining visitors would come into contact with resort employees, who then come into contact with others off-resort even in a ‘resort bubble’ scenario.

  • A true mass testing regime – think $1 test strips everyone could have at home, testing daily – could allow for a return to normal life even without better treatments (which are coming) or a vaccine. Everyone could test themselves, with results linked to an app, with a requirement to show a negative result by scannable app code to enter any public place.

Kauai south shore, credit: Reesed1999 via Wikimedia Commons

Testing on arrival might be a better option than negative test within 72 hours, although even then that might scare some people away out of fear they might test positive – a negative test in hand prior to travel gives passengers the confidence to come to the islands. If Kauai can support testing for all visitors 3 days after arrival, they should be able to manage the same rapid testing on arrival. Of course it’s possible someone could have been exposed to the virus and wouldn’t yet test positive, turning into a positive later. Nothing is foolproof (even lab-confirmed tests may return false negative results).

Kauai is one of the most picturesque of the Hawaiian islands, and especially among those with significant resort presence. Passengers generally fly into Lihue.

(HT: God Save The Points)

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 »

More articles by Gary Leff »



  1. I’m sure they will mourn the loss of another angry, diseased, science denying Trumptard not bringing the virus to their doorstep. Har har.

  2. I think this actually makes a lot of sense. Gary, maybe talk to an infectious disease expert. You’re beginning to come across a bit tendentious.

  3. Har har Marv – my wife and I have plans to visit Kauai in late February, we go to Hawaii every year. I guess you can define us as “ Trumptards “ So are some my closest friends. We are blue collar, self employed millionaires with no college degrees. We got this way by working long hours for many, many years. We saw opportunities and took a chance. We don’t burn our flag, and understand capitalism, not Marxism, is the path to the American dream if you want it bad enough. The opportunities in this country are endless and rewarding – if you want it bad enough and are willing to sacrifice. Nothing worthwhile ever comes easy. My daughter, who is in her twenties, already owns her own home. Not a penny was given to her,she earned every penny to pay for it. If this is the description of a trumptards, go on with your hate spewing, I love my country and my life!

  4. @Stvr – I have been in regular touch with several, what cause do you think I’m trying to promote? I haven’t suggested this makes zero sens by the way though I do think they could do better.

  5. Sorry that the government has made cowards out of our leaders. I was an owner for my second home. It’s a beautiful place to enjoy. I’m 70 yrs old non college retired contactor. My dad fought in germany as a tank destroyer tech. What if he told Gen.Patton “Hey it’s not safe to go”? . Not on his watch. These Hawaii government fool’s are ruining the state. Why don’t you ask the federal government to supply more tests and build field hospitals like they did in New York. Best to remove the mayor on the next election. I’m hoping for the return of tourist to help the wonderful people of Hawaii. John

  6. Hey Al and other old “self made men”,
    I hate to break it to you and the rest of the Trump voting “pull yourself up by the bootstraps” contingent but 1950s white bread America doesn’t exist anymore. Automation is going to end jobs for most people and the planet cannot sustain your brand of capitalism any longer. Life has passed you by and you can’t live in the past anymore. You don’t “deserve” to go to Hawaii and wantonly spread a fatal virus because you worked hard and you’re now an entitled millionaire. You olds just don’t get it. Let’s not even get into the facts and history that Hawaii was an independent country that was hijacked and stolen by the Dole family into becoming a U.S. territory last century. Hawaii doesn’t need you, your money, your virus, or your attitude. Go to Mexico and spread your old white wealthy entitlement to another former peasant mentality colony.
    PS, I am also a self made multi millionaire and I don’t have your ridiculous attitude. The world owes me nothing.

  7. @Marv Machinery making human jobs obsolete has been forecast by every Luddite for the last couple hundred years or so. Thus far, 100% of them have been incorrect and humans have just taken on more productive jobs instead and experienced the largest and fastest growth in standard of living in all of human history. Yes, some jobs will be replaced by machines – no doubt about that- but there’s no legitimate reason to believe that other more productive jobs for humans won’t come along to replace them, as has continually been the case for pretty much all of human history and especially since the beginning of the industrial revolution.

  8. I started to read the comments and realized I shouldn’t waste my time. Very ugly. The issue is extending the quarantine for 72 hrs upon arrival. As a nurse I understand, but am equally saddened. In all of this anger in our world today, to escape to this beautiful island would be so very medicinal. As my budget allows a week, I will cancel if this plan is approved. What will be will be. Please everyone., be kind.

  9. Kauai’s policy is largely motivated by the fact that they’ve had basically no Covid so far — unlike Oahu or the Big Island. When you haven’t yet had the virus, you are most afraid.

  10. Don’t see why there’s so much political comments. Kauai has decided to err on the side of caution and avoid potentially importing COVID cases rather than get tourism money.

    Their actions are neither to take the moral high ground on the COVID nor to willfully spite a segment of the US.

    Good on them if they succeed but if they find that they need the money after all, I’m sure they’ll be relaxing the guidelines promptly.

    And to the argument that they somehow should open up to mainland US visitors just because we have money to spend, consider what you would say if they decided to instead open to to visitors from China, who also has money to spend and much lower rates of COVID cases. Money doesn’t buy everything.

  11. There are less than 200 hospital beds on the island of Kauai. They cannot afford to have covid affect their community like the other islands.

  12. So much emotion, drama and hate on a site about travel to Hawaii. I guess the Aloha spirit isn’t contagious. Like everything else it will pass. Be of good cheer and remember that hate is like a poison that courses through your body – it does no one any good.

  13. Al good job on the above–You absolutely get it as does John..but we have Marv… out there in Liberal left wing land wanting MORE Taxes and More Taxes and more regulations and Joe who cannot remember his name!!!!!

  14. Yes right wing tax avoiders, I have no problem supporting a functioning society. You greedy misers want to keep it all for yourselves and live in your castles undisturbed by reality. Guess what? Civilization costs money! You people are causing the USA to literally fall apart, starting in 1980 with Reagan. You insane radical right wingers are paying the lowest taxes ever and you’re still whining about government, taxes, minorities, women, immigrants, and anything else that intrudes on your Rethuglican programmed world view. Stay home and do your civic duty for once in your narcissistic meaningless lives.

  15. As a resident of Kauai, I think it’s important to note that the tourism industry was overwhelming the quality of life on this island before covid hit. Beloved beaches were becoming crowded or impossible to park near. Traffic delays were a constant, and taking over more and more parts of the highway as the years went on. Nobody here wants to bring back unlimited tourism, especially in the age of covid with our extremely limited number of hospital beds. Yes, we need tourism for our economy, but if we can limit it to keep us all safer, and at the same time diversify the economy into more agriculture for instance, it will ultimately benefit both the residents AND the visitors. The age of covid has presented us with the opportunity to readjust our priorities, with more intention, aloha and compassion for all.

  16. Gary, your first bullet point is not supported by the science. Your world is too America-centric: Melbourne in Australia has proved that community spread can be terminated by a short, sharp lockdown with closed borders.

    But we already knew that a century ago from Spanish Flu.

    The reality is that rapid testing allows too many False Negatives – which is how Trump caught it – and there is no way to safely resume travel prior to vaccine delivery.

    It’s sad for places like Hawai’i, but they just need to look at Europe’s second wave – caused by importing the virus from summer holidays – or the disaster taking place in Tahiti.

    We just need to close all borders and ban all travel until mandatory vaccination has occurred. The Australian example shows that with closed borders and travel bans you can suppress the virus to the point that economic activity can return to around 95%.

  17. Total eradication……that’s the problems with the whole covid narrative. Making people think it’s going to go away. That’s never going to happen. All you can do is try to keep the spread to a minimum and learn, which we have, how to treat people that become infected so they don’t die from it. That’s what has happened. Kauai’s going to have much bigger problems when people are homeless, starving and stealing to survive because their economy is literally wiped out due to lack of tourism.

  18. Nearly booked 2 rooms at Grand Hyatt over Christmas a few weeks ago along with WN flights to get there but didn’t due to under 12 years old covid testing. Now I’m even more glad I don’t have points locked up in those two providers. Sorry Kauai, looks like a homebound holiday for us

  19. I think there is a presumption that enough travelers will willingly quarantine in kauai to make economic recovery a reality, and I highly doubt that to be the case. For example, I as a frequent traveler to kauai who prefers to rent a house and cook my own meals, would never quarantine in a resort where the risk of catching Covid is much higher and I must wear a monitor. Unfortunately, I don’t think I am the exception, and this policy will allow Kauai’s economy to rebound.

  20. Reading the comments from most of you make it perfectly clear why kauai residents are choosing to keep you away. The attitudes and opinions negate the very reason reasonable folk would choose to visit their majestic state. Do you not see that?!
    To bring that kind of energy to kauai is the reason why you should NEVER be allowed to visit.
    Or at least until you figure it out.
    Im an optimistic sort of gal, but im sorry to say i dont hold much hope based on your opinions.
    Love you kauai!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *