Hawaii’s governor has extended the mandatory 14-day quarantine for all arriving travelers and returning residents through July, banning most travel to the islands until August at the earliest.
Travel to Hawaii has been essentially banned since March. The quarantine policy had been set to lapse at the end of June after several previous extensions, but Hawaii Gov. David Ige signed an emergency proclamation Wednesday extending it through July 31, the Honolulu Star Advertiser reports.
Already hurting from a drastic drop in tourism, this latest extension will derail most travel plans to Hawaii during the peak summer travel season. Travelers can still head for Hawaii, but they’ll be required to sign an order acknowledging the mandatory quarantine and face a fine of up to $5,000 (or one year in jail) for violating it. And Hawaii is actively enforcing those rules.
Meanwhile, Hawaii plans to restart interisland travel come June 16 by lifting the 14-day quarantine for Hawaiians traveling between islands. It’s the first part of a phased reopening as Hawaii plots a course to safely welcome travelers back from the mainland and across the globe.
While Hawaii has reported a relatively low number of coronavirus cases, government officials are clearly wary of an outbreak due to an influx of travelers. Ige said welcoming tourists back to Hawaii will likely require a combination of testing, screening and contact tracing.
“The challenge here in the islands is the new novel coronavirus is spreading around the world and we are at different stages within the United States and most importantly all around the world,” Ige said. “We will be working through and finding solutions that allows us to bring travelers from out-of-state back to the state of Hawaii in a safe and secure manner.”
Unfortunately, that could leave out travelers from the mainland U.S. – at least initially. Ige said the state is considering opening a “travel corridor” to ease entry restrictions with countries that have managed the virus well, including Japan, Australia, South Korea, and New Zealand.
If you’re itching to get to Hawaii, you’ll have to wait. Hawaii is being cautious, and clearly officials are waiting to see how restarting interisland travel will influence the spread of COVID-19.
There’s no ruling out yet another extension of the mandatory quarantine that could push travel to Hawaii out to the fall – or even later for mainland U.S. residents.