Summer vacation dreams squelched by governor’s decision

Updated


The prospect of a summer vacation in Hawaii this year is looking bleaker after Governor David Ige said Monday he intends to delay a planned Aug. 1 reopening of the state’s tourism industry to travelers who test negative to COVID-19 prior to arriving in the state.

Under pressure from local lawmakers and an alarming spike in COVID-19 cases in Hawaii and elsewhere, Ige reportedly will extend the existing 14-day quarantine requirement for all travelers arriving from the mainland United States and abroad through the end of August.


A formal announcement is expected sometime Monday, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported.

Ige said he will also delay a plan to waive the quarantine through a pre-testing program. Under that plan announced on June 24, travelers who test negative for COVID-19 no more than 72 hours before arriving in Hawaii were able to waive the 14-day quarantine.



The testing idea excited tourism-dependent Hawaii businesses because it effectively allows for short-term vacations.

But a slew of elected leaders decried the idea in recent weeks, saying the pre-testing would not be adequate to prevent travelers from bringing the virus to the islands, which the state has largely been able to manage, until recent weeks.


The state reported three COVID-19 related deaths over the weekend. Hawaii’s Department of Health said “community spread” was responsible for outbreaks at two O’ahu gyms and at the Hawaiian Airlines training center. Dozens of infections in the state have been linked to each outbreak.


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Hawaii’s tourism dependent economy has taken a major hit because of the quarantine order, which was implemented in March. The state currently has about 240,000 unemployed residents in a population of 1.4 million.

In May, tourism to Hawaii dropped a staggering 98.9 percent according to the Hawaii Tourism Authority.

Airlines were counting on Ige’s plan, too. United and Hawaiian Airlines said it would increase flying between the mainland U.S. (namely from California airports) and the islands beginning Aug. 1 because of the pre-testing concept. Alaska Airlines said it intended to restart its Hawaii flights too next month.

What do you do if you’ve booked airfare for a Hawaiian vacation that may not be happening in a few weeks? Travelers can take advantage of airlines’ generous no-fee flight change policies to delay taking those Hawaii flights.



But keep in mind that the airline will not offer a refund unless it outright cancels your flight, or reschedules it with drastically different arrival and departure times. With today’s word from Hawaii, it’s unclear if carriers will follow through with their grand plans to reinstate several nonstops between the mainland and the islands. Those holding tickets for August flights should expect to see itineraries change in the coming weeks as airlines adjust to the announcement.

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Chris McGinnis is SFGATE’s senior travel correspondent. You can reach him via email or follow him on Twitter or Facebook. Don’t miss a shred of important travel news by signing up for his FREE weekly email updates!

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