Ready for a Hawaiian vacation? Surf’s up, but so are lots of COVID-19-related hassles

Hawaii is going to start providing an alternative to its mandatory quarantine rule next week, but don’t pack your swimsuit without knowing the details.

Visiting the islands still won’t be as carefree as it has been in the past, and there are still elements in the plan to be worked out.

Starting Thursday, the state begins allowing tourists to forego a 14-day quarantine if they get negative results to a COVID-19 test at least 72 hours before their departure from the mainland. The Safe Travels program was supposed to begin Sept. 1 but was postponed due to a coronavirus spike in the state.

Does Hawaii actually want tourists?

“I want people to come if they are fully prepared to test, know that they are healthy and are prepared to wear a mask,” Lt. Gov. Josh Green, who has taken a leading role in developing the program, told USA TODAY. “If they do all those things, we are excited to resume our relationship with old friends.”

But he added, “We are very mindful of risk, and we’re just trying to begin the process of a healthy restoration of our economy. We are not pushing for any large numbers. We just want to begin to kind of shake off the rust.” 

You’ll need to be tested to skip quarantine

All visitors ages five and up must be tested in order to participate in the program. And the tests must be conducted by through certain health care companies, including those who have linked up with airlines. 

Travelers should check with their authorized tester to make that there are no age limits if they intend to bring children. Some won’t test children age 12 or younger, Green said.

Hawaiian Airlines’ at-home COVID-19 test kits can be used for people of any age. Vault Health, a telemedicine provider, says children can take its saliva-based test. Large airlines serving Hawaii have made arrangements to let customers take part in the test program at airports, clinics or at home depending on the carrier.

Some promise results faster than others. United Airlines will have a $250 rapid test available at San Francisco International Airport, in which results are delivered in minutes, not days, are available. 

Besides the airlines and some health care providers, approved tests for Hawaii can also be had at drug store giants CVS and Walgreens, Green said. 

A way to travel in Hawaii? Government unveils ‘resort bubble’ concept to hop between islands

You’ll have to endure a long flight in a mask

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