Hawaii has once again delayed its plans to restart tourism to the islands, as Gov. David Ige announced Tuesday that Hawaii would extend its mandatory 14-day quarantine for visitors and returning residents until at least October.
That move was widely expected after Hawaii reimposed travel restrictions between the islands earlier this month in a bid to fight a growing outbreak in the islands. But it’s another blow for travel to one of the world’s most popular destinations – and one that had been poised to restart travel.
Earlier this summer, Hawaii announced it would do away with the 14-day quarantine period starting Aug. 1, requiring visitors to present a recent negative COVID-19 test instead. That date is now being pushed back for the second time.
“We will continue to monitor the conditions here in Hawaii as well as key markets on the mainland to determine the appropriate start date for the pre-travel (COVID-19) testing program,” Ige said, according to USA Today.
Hawaii shut down nearly all travel in March as coronavirus cases spread throughout the mainland U.S. and globe, requiring mandatory quarantine with harsh penalties. The state extended those restrictions several times, most recently through July. With that measure in place, the number of visitors arriving to the islands dropped from more than 25,000 daily to under 1,000.
Whenever it happens, Hawaii’s plan to restart travel to the islands calls for all visitors to provide a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of arrival. Hawaii has been working with CVS on a potential testing partnership to smooth out that process.
But now that’s on hold until at least October – with no guarantee that’s when travel will be allowed to resume. Ige said the state will announce an opening date in advance so “that the hospitality industry would have the time they need to staff up.”
As with travel across the globe, it’s one step forward, two steps back. Hawaii will be off-limits to nearly everyone until October at the earliest. And there’s no guarantee that won’t get extended again.