Canadians Cleared For Hawaii Travel, As Testing Rules Tighten For All Arrivals

Nov 20, 2020

Canadian citizens will soon be eligible to skip Hawaii’s travel quarantine with a negative COVID-19 test.

Canada has officially joined the U.S. mainland and Japan in the state of Hawaii’s Safe Travel program, which waives the mandatory quarantine for passengers who test negative for the coronavirus prior to their flight.

The change takes effect November 24th. Air Canada and WestJet will resume flights to Hawaii from select cities.

At the same time Gov. David Ige revealed the addition of Canada to Safe Travels Hawaii,  Ige also announced that the testing protocols for all travelers are being tightened.

Also starting on Tuesday, passengers seeking a quarantine waiver must have the results of their test before boarding their flight. Previously, passengers whose test had not yet been confirmed would only have to quarantine until they received their negative result.

Ige said the change responds to concern from county officials that COVID-positive passengers were arriving in Hawaii.

Several county ayors, including Kauai’s Derek Kawakami, have been advocating for such a change to the Safe Travels program. Kauai County officials say they have identified multiple individuals who tested negative prior to travel, but later tested positive on a voluntary, post-flight screening.

Maui Mayor Michael Victorino also applauded the decision.

The change will add a further layer of complexity for those seeking to come to Hawaii. Air travelers  have a 72-hour window before their flight in which to get a test. Getting results can take 48 hours or longer.

However, Ige  said he did not think the change would deter potential visitors. He cited state data from the program showing that 94% of participants had their test results when they landed in Hawaii.

“We are aware that it would have some impact in the numbers, but we do believe that the pre-travel testing program is working, that all, many of our trusted partners are able to deliver results back to those traveling in a timely way,” the governor explained. 

Ige, Lt. Gov. Josh Green, and Victorino all pointed out that community spread among residents is largely driving the spread of the virus locally,  rather than new cases being introduced from out-of-state travel.

All three urged residents and visitors alike to wear masks in public and avoid large gatherings during the coming Thanksgiving holiday.