Hawaii To Welcome Visitors With Pre-Travel Testing

Filed Under: Hawaiian, Travel

Update: It looks like Hawaii may no longer welcome tourists as of August 1, 2020.

As of August 1, 2020, Hawaii will once again welcome visitors without a mandatory 14-day quarantine.

Hawaii’s current 14-day quarantine

In late March Hawaii introduced a 14-day quarantine for anyone coming to the state. This has been extended a few times, and as of now is valid for arrivals through July 31, 2020.

There has been no option to get tested to avoid this, meaning that Hawaii has been off limits to a vast majority of visitors, since you’d need to quarantine for two weeks before you can even start your vacation. Furthermore, unlike other states, Hawaii has been strictly enforcing the quarantine requirement.

Hawaii to allow testing in lieu of quarantine

As of August 1, 2020, travelers who test negative for coronavirus less than 72 hours before travel to Hawaii will be able to avoid the state’s mandatory quarantine. This will apply to both residents and visitors.

This is a similar model to what we’ve seen in Alaska — the state also initially required a 14-day quarantine, but recently started allowing testing in lieu of that. However, unlike in Alaska, Hawaii won’t be offering testing on arrival. That means the only option to skip the 14-day quarantine is to get tested before travel.

I’m curious — does anyone know if people can reliably schedule a coronavirus test and get the results within 72 hours of travel? I know it’s possible some places, but is it possible everywhere?

As Governor David Ige described the move to allow testing in lieu of a quarantine:

“We recognize that there are many concerns that continue. We believe this process of pre-testing does allow us to bring travelers back to Hawaii in a way that maintains a priority on the health and safety of our community.”

While state officials are nervous about the prospect of reopening given the spike in cases elsewhere, it’s also acknowledged that 240,000 people in the state are unemployed, and that won’t improve until visitors are allowed back in. It’s also believed that contact tracing and widespread testing in the state will allow Hawaii to “live with the virus.”

Bottom line

Hawaii now plans to welcome visitors from out of state without a quarantine as of August 1, 2020. Visitors will need to get tested before travel in order to be allowed in the state, with no option for testing on arrival.

Given how reliant Hawaii’s economy is on tourism, reopening needed to happen eventually. Hopefully the state doesn’t see too much of a spike following this policy change.

Anyone excited to see Hawaii reopen with testing?

(Tip of the hat to @wannnacruise)

  1. Hawaii is very high on my list. So, will this be a test to see if you currently have corona (the unpleasant one were they take a sample from your throat and one from your nose) especially the nose one is terrible since they just push very hard and deep into your nose. OR the one where they test your blood for antibodies.

    The blood test is not possible here at the moment. The other test only when you have symptoms, they will test you. Meaning fever, throat pain and so on. So currently I’m not able to get a official test (Netherlands)

  2. Abbott have deployed a rapid test with results in “13 minutes or less”, this is the same testing equipment used in Hospitals and key Government facilities where daily testing is required ( The White House ) for instance. Some airports are trialing this technology and could make mass transit travel more feasible if they can develop the process for testing in that environment.


  3. Helllo there,

    Does anyone know that Hawaii will allow visitors with pre test Only from mainland USA Or even from Europe?

    Or it is not possible to travel to Hawaii If you have Been in any of the EU member states.

  4. I’ve got reservations for October so am thrilled to hear this. Now I just have to find somewhere to get tested and get the results that quickly.

  5. Most likely outcome: they get reinfected again with COVID-19 (people will fake test results, tests are unreliable), end up with no tourism again but also a huge hospital bill, lots of dead people, a new strict lockdown, and a long-term scar (economic hysteresis).


  6. Hi Ben,

    I live in Hawaii and work for a hotel here on Oahu. I have been following the developments very closely as myself and many of my colleagues have been furloughed since the end of March and are anxiously waiting for the tourism to return to the states.

    To add a bit more info, in regards to the testing, the state is very close to finalizing a deal with CVS Pharmacy to provide convenient testing across the mainland (at over 11,000 locations) for anyone that is interested in traveling to Hawai’i. Once you get tested at the CVS Pharmacy, your information and the results will be entered into a database that will be shared with the local government and they will know exactly who has received the test and who has not before the plane lands at any of the state’s airports. For those that do not get tested they will be required to self quarantine for 14 days. If you do exhibit any symptoms upon landing (even with a proof of a negative test), you will be given the option of being tested at the airport. Again, this will be provided only to those exhibiting the symptoms, such as high fever, cough, etc.

    In addition, local officials are also working to form a Travel Bubble with Japan and South Korea (I believe that will be finalized at some point in the Fall), and further down the road with Australia and New Zealand, but from my understanding some sort of a pre test will have to take place for them as well.

  7. @Tamas: Hawaii is subject to the restrictions imposed by the Trump Administration on travel from Europe. These national-level restrictions apply to all 50 states.

  8. Asymptomatic people cannot reliably get test results in 72 hours. You are prioritized last for obvious reasons

    Most areas of country don’t have the ability to test. Some do.

    However as coronavirus infections increase you will see a reduction in areas that test asymptomatic people.
    (Example: Texas and Arizona)

    Thus: even if your area allows testing for travel now, it is no guarantee they will if you travel this Fall

    Lastly: there is talk of a centralized database of coronavirus test results given that people will try to use fake test results. (Like the Emotional Support Animals)

  9. This won’t work. Unless someone has a pressing need to be in Hawaii, leisure travelers won’t go through the trouble and possible expense of getting tested just for a vacation, especially families. They’ll simply go elsewhere. The same goes for asymptomatic testing: people who aren’t feeling bad won’t bother. Unfortunately, the same seems to hold true for many who are only mildly ill (probably most cases).

  10. They could easily contract with cVS and other nationwide labs. For instance, Qwest offers the antibody test (different test) via self referral nationwide. Hopefully testing will expand. While the nasal swab may feel slightly uncomfortable, I don’t think it is painful per se. I would think Hawaii, with these more rigid and systematic measures, may actually attract tourists that are more health conscious. Hawaii seems to have a much mor ewell put together system than most other US states, especially the part where the test from CVS (or other labs in the future) are send directly to the health agency rather than someone just photoshopping and showing some sort of paper document on arrival. They really seem like they have it together and are much more advanced in their processes than the rest of the country! The rest of the country can learn a thing or two from the specific systems and processes that Hawaii is setting up. I think some sort of nationwide airport rapid testing would be a good thing rather than the cheap security theatre bandade approach of taking temperature which we'[re not even doing. Clear is also developing a tech infrastructure to track health data. I am completely outraged also that most of the country is not using the API that Apple and Google developed. I think the API use should mandatory, period! I don’t think any privacy concerns people may have outweigh public health benefits.

  11. I really hope Hawaii does not become a hotspot because of this. I’m guessing if things keep rising in The US they could always change the requirements back.

  12. Urgent care clinics around the country are beginning to offer the Abbott and other rapid tests. Takes some hunting to find them, but they are around. There is a question is of whether insurance will cover the rapid test or not. (CARES act requires insurance companies to cover COVID testing – but its a grey area whether that covers all types of tests).

    Testing infrastructure and access is generally getting better and will likely continue to do so over the next month+ before this policy goes into effect.

  13. @Joe Chivas
    Second that
    Speak for yourself, dude. I’ll get another spinal tap if that’s what it takes.

  14. I’ll happily take the test to get to Hawaii. I take it tourism will still be down which will be great for those of us who visit. At this point, I have my eyes set on January.

  15. As a Hawaiian resident but with a factory located on the mainland, I welcome the chance to avoid a 14-day quarantine. So far, I checked several places for testing, and it seems my local Hawaiian Health Insurance won’t cover expenses incurred on the mainland. As a large number of residents are among the arriving passengers, I hope sometime can be done to assist residents that need to return to Hawaii.

  16. Can anyone confirm if the 72 hour covid pre-testing policy is before departure or on arrival to the islands? In other words…when does the 72 hour clock start? Thank you.

  17. I’m going to get a PCR (nose swab) and serology antibody (blood) test on Friday afternoon here in Phoenix – they are offered at my doctor’s office by appointment, and they didn’t require me to have any particular reason or any symptoms or known exposure.

    I’m planning to see some family for the first time in 6 months next week. There’s no 100% perfect way to 100% guarantee no infection, short of locking yourself alone in a room forever. But at least getting “surveillance” testing like this, on a regular basis or before potential exposure events, like travel, should allow us to catch a significant number of potential infections. Pair that with masks in public, and this is how we get out of this.

    I too have longstanding plans to go to Hawaii in October. If this Friday’s test works and is straightforward, I’ll plan to use it again within 72 hours of my October flight to Maui.

  18. As I understand it, PCR testing (the most common one, checks for current infection), technically only takes a few minutes to develop a result in most cases. The lag / wait times are simply due to the volume of tests and the backlogs that appear in areas where people are worried. This would be true of almost any test that actually requires lab work, and isn’t a “rapid” test (like HIV or pregnancy tests). It also matters if you’re being tested at a location that has the lab machines on site (in which case, they can process pretty quickly), or whether you’re testing at a location where all the samples are batched up every day and sent somewhere else for processing – in that case, expect several days delay.

  19. In Sonoma County, CA, and it’s not possible for a guarantee for the test in this time frame, and test results aren’t possible to get over weekends, from what I have heard. If anyone knows otherwise, please let me know.

    I have a card with Hawaiian Airlines, solely for traveling to and from Hawaii, and at this point, I’m very close to just canceling it since it has a fee.

  20. How would a test 72 hours before the flight guarantee any sort of safety? Seems like it should be at the airport just before boarding. Kind of like going to the airport to go through TSA security, going home for a couple days, and then coming back to the airport to fly without clearing again.

  21. I love this. Along with Aeroplan offering 50% of your miles back if you book before July 1 and no cancellation miles redeposit fees if you cancel before Aug 31, I’m going to book speculative tickets.

  22. I love the way people speak for others and make blanket statements like “people won’t do this.” I have a vacation rental and have been getting requests for months from people who want to come, asking me if they can get tested to avoid quarantine.

  23. In Southern California, I had blood drawn on a Wednesday morning for an antibody test (serology) and I had the results around 2pm the next day – that’s about normal for any kind of blood test I’ve ever had in normal times. I think the swab tests are taking longer because there are so many more people who need/want to be tested that it’s causing a backup. I read the other day it took 48 hours to get swab-tested results into the county databases, so I guess it’s technically possible to meet the 72 hour deadline, but might be pretty stressful if your flight/vacation depended on it.

  24. I applaud any reasonable plan to get responsible tourism back on track but have a few questions:

    1. How long after infection will it take before a test will show positive for Covid-19?

    As far as I know medical science has no positive answers about the means of infection, probabilities of infection and the length of time from infection to becoming infectious.

    2. How will a negative test before travel guarantee the infection does not occur in between?

    Djokavic held a charity tournament with many players and a crown of 4000. No social distancing. Two weeks later (?) his family and at least several tennis players are now covid positive. That means that for two weeks up to 4000 people have been wandering around infecting others.

    3. Would a second covid test within 48 hours of arrival in Hawaii improve the odds of catching any carriers?

    4. Should the first few waves of tourists under these new rules be monitored carefully and be asked to be vigilant about social distancing to get some idea of how effective the new policy is before opening the floodgates.

    Look at the disasters in Florida, Texas and California.

    Good luck. Maintain social distance. Be kind.

  25. @Ban – Hawaii’s current 14-day quarantine.

    How about defining Hawaii’s version of the definition?

  26. @JetAway My family (husband + 2 kids) are currently considering getting ourselves tested so we can keep our planned Hawaiian vacation. The requirement that everyone get tested first makes me at least feel more confident that we won’t be exposed on the flight. So, there’s at least one family willing to jump through these hoops.

  27. So happy to know there is even a chance for us to get there for our August reservations!! And the opportunity to keep Hawaii safer, is worth any discomfort! We love the islands and their people! We want to be a blessing to them, as they have been for us throughout our lives.

  28. @JetAway: Absolutely, people will pay for a Covid test so they can go vacation in Hawaii because it is worth it. Now, if you’re talking about Branson, MO or the Ozarks or Atlantic City or whatever other trashy vacation destination you’re thinking of, then NO.

  29. Have a trip tentatively planned for October. While the testing is definitely a good idea I do believe the 72 hour time frame will become a point of contention or a grey area. If labs aren’t processing on a weekend that will determine the days you can get tested and inevitably fly out. I also believe that the time difference for someone like myself on the East Coast could prove difficult.

    For example:
    I have a flight to California on Tuesday night, Fly to the islands Wed. 72 hours from boarding (which should really be the cut-off instead of arrival so people who are possibly positive don’t board a plane) could 6pm on Sunday. If testing doesn’t occur Sunday after 4, waiting till Monday could cause the test results to not come back till I’m already on a plane.

    If someone really wants to go to Hawaii as I do, I think there should almost be a 2-3 test plan.

    1 PCR test 14-21 days out
    1 PCR test 3-5 days out
    1 Rapid Test at airport pre-boarding

    Small price to pay for feeling safe while traveling and keeping Hawaii a safe place so the people who have lost their jobs and other income can try to get their lives and livelihood back in order with out risk of another shut down and destroying a economy that is absolutely decimated already.

  30. I agree with this thinking. Its too difficult to hope for 2-4 day test results to make it within the 72-hour limit currently being proposed. The way the airlines are stuffing the planes–absolutely no social distancing on board–makes me worry about getting Covid-19 while on the plane, not in the 72 hours prior to that.
    So once we know more about how long it takes from exposure to testing positive, if that is 3-4 days, then at least a 2nd test taken 4 or 5 days after arriving in Hawaii seems like a good idea.

  31. Thanks Ben for the article on this! With the image that Americans have internationally at present with the handling of Covid this is especially important as a Hawaiian domestic destination could be more realistic to some (like myself) and still be international level (not a local stacation/roadtrip). We are in process of cancelling our Japan trip as we know Americans can not reasonably enter at this point and more than likely won’t in 2020 (as Japan is not a tourism dependent economy). Hawaii is tourism dependent so figuring more likely they will flex on a solution. Also more outdoor activities (beaches, water) so more likely to have things to do that are usable and open. Really curious how the 72 hour turnaround test can happen? Hoping it is a cash pay at CVS or Labcorp but not sure a consumer directed test can “guarantee” the turnaround time that a clinical setting would (like preop or ER testing). Would love to know more on how this can be implemented.

  32. My family is very excited we don’t have to cancel our August trip to Hawaii! I understand there will be some people who are still skeptical and choose not to go, but we are more than happy to comply with the pre-test requirement. I have called several testing locations where I live that all say they can have results back within three days. Now I am just watching the news to see if Hawaii will implement specific locations and methods of producing negative results. The deals we got on hotel and airfare more than compensate the cost of a covid test and will allow us to generously support the tourism industry while we are there.
    P.S. Looking for a great luau experience that will be open in August. PCC had to refund us since they aren’t open until September.

  33. The rapid test is extremely quick but Hawaii isn’t accepting that. And as some have stated, most places here on the Mainland will not do a test if you don’t have X amount of symptoms. And if you do manage to get tested, it does generally take about 4 to 5 days to get the test back. At least it does at our Facility. We are booked for the end of August, we’ve changed three times already, so I’m pretty positive we’ll just cancel and call it a loss for this year. And yes, we WOULD take the test to come but it just doesn’t seem possible for it all to come together, meaning the time frame. No way to do it.

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