World Travel, Inc.’s EVP and Corporate Counsel, Maribeth Minella recently completed a trip to Hawaii. It was a last-minute trip and according to Maribeth, traveling to Hawaii was “a lesson in preparedness.” Executive Director of World Travel, Inc. Leisure Tanya Browne guided Maribeth through the details of travel during the pandemic, from local testing requirements to airport guidelines before the trip. Learn more about Maribeth’s experience and what to expect on your next trip below.
- What did you have to do to initially prepare for the trip? (Ex. Did you have to isolate yourself for two weeks before or afterward? Did you have to take a COVID test?)
Hawaii has very strict and particular requirements, so any travel to Hawaii must be very carefully planned. Travelers should read and understand all the information made available to them at hawaiicovid19.com and travel.hawaii.gov. For example, the COVID test must be within 72 hours of the date and time of the traveler’s last leg of their journey. For example, if your trip includes a connection, the test must be within 72 hours of the day and time of your connection. Before departure, travelers must register at travel.hawaii.gov and upload their test results. Successful registrations will result in a line QR code, which will be scanned at the airport upon arrival. Travelers who skip this step will be delayed at the airport until they register and receive a QR code.
- Did Hawaii have any restrictions that hindered your experience?
No, Hawaii has a low COVID case count, therefore they have strict, but manageable guidelines to keep travelers and staff safe. Before traveling to Hawaii, it’s best to be informed of the COVID guidelines and expectations by the state. Tanya was knowledgeable and informative of Hawaii’s guidelines and what I would expect. For example, travelers must have a negative Nucleic Acid Amplification Test (NAAT) test, from one of the state’s trusted testing centers, within 72 hours of the last leg of their journey to Hawaii. If you do not, you will be subject to the state’s mandatory 10-day quarantine. Using one of the state’s trusted testing partners is a must. Even if a traveler has a negative NAAT test from a different laboratory, the results will not be accepted by the state and the traveler will be subject to mandatory quarantine.
- How were the airports? Was the process quick and easy? Did the staff stick to the airport COVID friendly guidelines?
Yes, the airport was unsurprisingly less crowded, but certainly not empty. There are definite signs of recovery. The airport staff was very kind and mindful about social distancing, making hand sanitizer readily available and focusing on sterilization and cleanliness. It is very clear that every possible precaution was being taken.
- There are a lot of concerns about traveling now, what were your concerns and how did your experience differ from your expectations? And what would you say to other travelers who have similar concerns?
I expected there to be questionable cleanliness practices in the airports, travelers and staff not wearing masks, or long lines at the airport with no regard to social distancing, but that wasn’t the case. As long as you stick to COVID-safety recommendations, travel is rather uneventful. The airport staff, airline personnel, and most other passengers are very careful. I did not sit next to anyone and the seats and bathrooms were very clean. Make sure you are prepared, wear a mask and take a common-sense approach, travel is not an issue.
- What is available to do while in Hawaii? Were the restaurants, and hotels open and clean?
My trip was last minute, and I didn’t have the opportunity to do any sightseeing. However, the beaches were open for tourists and the events for snorkeling and whale watching groups were kept to a smaller number than usual. Many of the restaurants, resorts, hiking trails were open as well. Since they were less crowded, they’re quite enjoyable. Some travelers might be concerned about the cleanliness of the hotels, and restaurants, but all of them were very clean. The staff took heed to all safety regulations, wore masks, and thoroughly cleaned every room and table after use. As I said, as long as you wear a mask, follow the safety regulations and take a common-sense approach, travel is uneventful.
If you plan to travel, research your destination’s COVID-19 restrictions and contact our Leisure Department for your state approved testing partners. For more information regarding Hawaii’s COVID-19 guidelines and regulations, please see here and for more travel information to Hawaii, please see here.