Island escapes are a tempting fantasy when sitting in a cubicle looking at a backlog of files to be processed, or more recently, staring blankly at one’s home office desk and trying to figure out where to begin. And it’s a beckoning light when looking to leave the confines of one’s street and city in search of clean and spacious beaches with warm floral scented winds.
But Hawaii might not be that destination during these odd weeks. While the islands are within our borders and comfortingly familiar to most Americans, it is not as accessible as it once was, although those determined to make the five-hour flight from Los Angeles to Honolulu can still do so.
Hawaiian Airlines cut the route system drastically but there is still a daily flight one can take from LAX. Once there, however, visitors and returning residents face a mandatory two-week period of self-quarantine – not quite the beach vacation fantasy, after all.
Travel remains the leading economic driver in Hawaii, seeing more than 10 million visitors arrive last year to spend some $17.8 billion.
So it was a hard moment recently when Hawaii’s governor, David Ige, asked travelers to postpone trips for 30 days. “The actions I’m announcing today may seem extreme to some of you, and we know that it will have negative effects to our economy. But we are confident that taking aggressive actions now will allow us to have a quicker recovery when this crisis is over.”
The full weight of the governor’s words begin March 26 when all visitors arriving in the Hawaiian Islands will have to self-quarantine for 14 days. The mandate, the first such action in the nation, applies to all arrivals at state airports from the continental U.S. and international destinations and extends to other private and commercial aircrafts.
All visitors arriving through Hawaii’s airports will be required to complete a Hawaii Department of Agriculture form that will be distributed onboard their flight. They will retain the form when disembarking the aircraft. Upon arrival, they will go through a checkpoint and present the completed form with a valid identification. Checkpoint staff will validate the form and issue documentation that certifies they cleared the checkpoint. The form also includes information on the mandatory requirements for the 14-day quarantine along with penalties.
Failure to follow this order is a misdemeanor and punishable by a maximum fine of $5,000, or imprisonment of not more than one year, or both. Enforcement will be handled by each of Hawaii’s four counties.
The governor also requested the closure of all bars, clubs, theaters, entertainment centers and visitor attractions across the state. Restaurants were also asked to close or provide drive-thru, take out, pick-up or delivery. The Hawaii State Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) also closed all Hawaii state parks, in addition to commercial ocean and trail tours on March 20.
The mandatory 14-day self-quarantine orders are:
• Proceed directly from the airport to your designated quarantine location, which is the location identified and affirmed by you on the mandatory State of Hawai‘i Department of Agriculture Plants and Animals Declaration Form.
• Remain in your designated quarantine location for a period of 14 days or the duration of your stay in the State of Hawai‘i, whichever is shorter.
• If you are a visitor, your designated quarantine location is your hotel room or rented lodging.
• You can only leave your designated quarantine location for medical emergencies or to seek medical care.
• Do not visit any public spaces, including but not limited to pools, meeting rooms, fitness centers or restaurants.
• Do not allow visitors in or out of your designated quarantine location other than a physician, healthcare provider, or individual authorized to enter the designated quarantine location by the Director of HIEMA.
• Comply with any and all rules or protocols related to your quarantine as set forth by your hotel or rented lodging.
The mandate will go into effect at 12:01 a.m. on Thursday, March 26, 2020.
“These actions are extreme, but they will help flatten the curve and lay the groundwork for a quicker recovery,” added Ige.