It’s been pretty quiet on Maui over the past seven months.
In March, Hawaii Governor David Ige enacted a mandatory 14-day traveler quarantine to fight the spread of COVID-19, a decision that was met with equal parts relief and frustration. Since then, the number of mainland and international visitors has plummeted. In August, the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) reported a 99 percent drop in visitors to Maui County—that is, the islands of Maui, Lanai, and Molokai—compared to the same month in 2019. According to the HTA, of the 2,433 travelers who arrived in Maui County in August, there were 2,341 on Maui, 104 on Molokai, and 78 on Lanai. In stark contrast, Maui County had 278,345 visitors in August of 2019: 273,638 on Maui, 4,860 on Molokai, and 7,739 on Lanai.
After pushing back plans for a pre-travel testing program three times, Governor Ige announced it would be implemented on Thursday, Oct. 15, effectively reopening the state to tourism. As of now, the counties of Kauai and Maui are on board with the program, but Hawaii County has opted out. Amid a recent uptick in new COVID-19 cases on Hawaii Island, Hawaii County will continue with the 14-day mandatory quarantine for all incoming travelers.
When the pre-travel testing program goes into effect on Oct. 15, out-of-state visitors and returning residents (those traveling to Oahu, Maui, and Kauai) will have the option to skip the 14-day mandatory quarantine if they produce a negative test result from a COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of their trip’s final leg.
Here’s the fine print: Passengers ages five and older are required to take a nucleic acid amplification test from a Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) certified laboratory. Additionally, a trained professional must observe all tests. Lastly, and arguably most importantly, only test results from trusted testing partners approved by the Hawaii Department of Health will be accepted. The list of trusted testing partners includes Hawaiian Airlines, Southwest Airlines, United Airlines, AFC Urgent Care, Carbon Health, CityHealth Urgent Care, Color, CVS Health, Kaiser Permanente (for Kaiser members only), Quest Diagnostics, Vault Health, and Walgreens.
It’s also important to note that the state’s mandatory 14-day interisland quarantine is still in effect. Until the governor decides otherwise, anyone who travels between islands must quarantine for two weeks. Additionally, Maui County requires that all residents and visitors ages five and older must wear a face mask or cloth covering the nose and mouth while in public settings. This requirement does not apply to anyone engaging in “permissible exercise activities” (e.g., running, surfing, cycling, etc.) as long as physical distancing is maintained.
To learn more about Hawaii’s COVID-19 policies and procedures, visit www.hawaiicovid19.com. For more information about Maui County’s COVID-19 policies and procedures, visit www.mauicounty.gov/2370/COVID-19-Coronavirus-Information.