Tag: flights

Pre-travel testing News!

We got some good news today! The State of Hawaii is rolling out it’s pre-travel testing program which would allow visitors to avoid the mandatory 14 day quarantine.

Don’t get too excited too quickly. There are still many things to figure out – but at least there is a plan! I’m telling you, as a vacation rental owner, it’s been pretty bleak the past six months. Maybe there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

morning

Please read all about it here at Hawaii News Now and if you are planning a trip to Hawaii, please do keep a close eye on the news for further announcements.

So far I see a few problems:

  • You have to be able to get pre-travel testing 72 hours before travel (I’m told often you need to be showing symptoms to get a test).
  • You need to get your negative test results back prior to your trip (this also could be a problem).
  • If you don’t get your test results back on time, you will need to quarantine upon arrival until you get your negative test results.
  • Per County of Maui rules, you cannot at this time quarantine in a vacation rental but would need to stay in accommodation on the ‘approved list’.

Here is a pre-travel testing flow chart issued by the State of Hawaii that shows some answers.

Also, check the Frequently Asked Questions on the State of Hawaii’s Covid page for many answers.

Let’s wait a little and see what else the State comes up with. I for one am encouraged – at least they are finally talking about having a plan…. six months after the pandemic shut down Hawaii tourism.

Is this the answer to Hawaii’s economic woes?

No, let’s face it. I don’t see visitors streaming back en masse with the current Covid uncertainty. However, at least those who want to travel will have an easier time doing it. I foresee visitors taking advantage of discounted prices to stay for longer periods of time and working remotely (hottest travel trend?).

What about our Canadian visitors?

Good question. At this time the Canadian government has not eased their 14 day mandatory quarantine requirements for travelers returning to Canada. (Trust me, I am watching for this – I would love to go visit family again).

Sig went to Costco today and look what he found…. while not Canadians per se, he did buy some Canadian bell peppers.

pre-travel testing
it may not be you, but Canadian bell peppers have made it to Hawaii!
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And here we go – another inter-island quarantine

How are things going Covid-wise in your neck of the woods? Here, after months of good numbers, the Hawaii governor has re-instated the inter-island quarantine AND pushed back the start ‘avoid quarantine by showing a negative test’.

We were doing well with low numbers, thanks to an island-wide shutdown and the mandatory quarantine. Then we got complacent as things opened back up. On Oahu the numbers have been increasing rapidly, with new cases numbering 200+/day in the past week.

Last week Hawaii Governor Ige (pronounced Ee-geh) instituted a new inter-island mandatory quarantine. It will run August 11-31, 2020. Oahu is also doing a partial shut-down, while Maui and the other neighbor islands are staying their current course. We’ll see what happens.

Negative test to avoid quarantine

Did you know, starting October 1 those traveling to Hawaii can circumvent the mandatory 14 day quarantine with proof of a negative Covid-19 test. The tricky part is, you will need to take the test 3 days prior to travel. This date has now twice been pushed back. We sure hope October 1 is a firm date.

Quarantine Options

The Maui County mayor has recently announced that visitors may no longer quarantine in vacation rentals. Should you need to quarantine, you will need to book a hotel or stay in a long-term (6+ month rental) or someone’s private home. Fun!

Canadian guests

A week or two ago Canadian media outlets were running stories that Canadians will be allowed to travel to Hawaii once the mandatory quarantine to Hawaii is lifted. I haven’t seen this on any of the official sites here in Hawaii, so I’m not sure if it’s true. For now Canadians still have a mandatory 14 day quarantine upon re-entry from the US into Canada.

Cancellations of upcoming trips

Since everything is so up in the air with Covid-19, I have temporarily pushed back the ‘balance due date’ to 30 days prior to your arrival (from the usual 60 days). If you need to cancel your upcoming stay, please do so prior to the due date and please give as much notice as possible so we can reopen dates for others (mainly staycations).

Once you have paid your balance in full, your stay becomes non-refundable even for Covid-19 reasons. We always recommend trip cancellation insurance. As I understand, the only trip cancellation insurance that covers COVID-19 cancellations is a CFAR (Cancel For Any Reason) policy. Please study the terms of any cancellation insurance carefully to know what is and isn’t covered.

Newsletter

If you would like to be added to my newsletter mail list, please send me a message, either here or directly through email. I foresee sending newsletters every few months and you may always unsubscribe if you don’t find the information useful. As always I invite you to check our blog for updates and things to do on Maui. Let me know if there’s anything in particular you are interested in reading about.

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Wishing you a beautiful day from Maui!
Aloha!
Cara

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Quarantine extended!

Unfortunately we knew this was coming, but today Hawaii Governor David Ige made it official. The ‘negative Covid test to avoid quarantine’ exemption has been pushed out to at least September 1, 2020. Mandatory 14 day quarantine extended. Sigh.

Here is a link to my previous post about the mandatory 14 day quarantine and that there was going to be a testing option. Travelers could take a test 3 days prior to travel, have negative results, and avoid the quarantine.

Unfortunately there are problems with that. For one, local politicians and Hawaii residents have the jitters thanks to the surge in cases on the mainland. We are being told there is a shortage of testing kits because of the mainland surge. Many travelers and mainland owners are reporting problems getting tests (without having Covid-19 symptoms) and timely results which would be required at flight check-in. Finally, public school is slated to begin the first week of August and allowing tourism at the same time would make it more difficult to see if new flare-ups are community-based or due to travel (or so I’m told).

In short, it’s a bit of a kaffuffle.

Unfortunately, this further delays tourism to Hawaii and with that a kickstart to the economy and completely flat-lined tourism industry.

We wish you were here. I really do. In the mean time, we hope the US mainland is able to curb their cases so Hawaii politicians feel more comfortable with reopening to tourism. But we also hope the increasing numbers of returning Hawaii residents who traveled to the mainland this summer adhere to the terms of quarantine so that Hawaii also can keep its numbers under control.

How many people are actually arriving in Hawaii?

In case you are interested, here are the posted mainland arrival numbers for yesterday 7/12/20 as compiled by the Hawaii Tourism Authority. For comparison purposes, in 2019 the average arrivals were 35,000/day.

mainland arrival numbers as posted by the Hawaii Tourism Authority for 7/13/20
  • Crew = flight crew members
  • Transit = people who are in transit to another location through Hawaii and aren’t leaving the airport
  • Military = military exempt personnel
  • Exempt = people who are exempt from the 14-day quarantine after receiving prior approval from the state
  • Relocate to Hawaii = people who are moving to Hawaii
  • Returning Resident = people who indicate on the DOT’s form that they’re returning residents
  • Visitor = people who are not in the above categories
a torch ginger bloom – not because it has anything to do with this depressing news, but because it made me smile yesterday as I checked on our Kihei Surfside #405 condo

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How to avoid the mandatory quarantine

A few months ago the Governor of Hawaii instituted a mandatory quarantine for all arrivals into the State of Hawaii. We even had to quarantine when traveling between the Hawaiian islands with a few exceptions including medical travel.

The inter-island restrictions were lifted as of June 16th and slowly inter-island travel is resuming. A few days ago the Governor held another press-conference. Visitors and returning residents to the islands will be able to avoid the mandatory quarantine by having a negative pre-travel Covid-19 test, to be completed 3 days prior to travel.

Here is the Governor’s press release

Governor’s Office:

Pre-Travel Testing Option for Trans-Pacific Travel Beginning August 1

Gov. David Ige announced today all travelers arriving in Hawai‘i from out-of-state will be required to get a valid COVID-19 test prior to their arrival, and to show proof of a negative test result, to avoid the 14-day quarantine. The pre-travel testing program begins Aug. 1.
Out-of-state travelers arriving in Hawai‘i must get a PCR test prior to arrival from any testing location approved by the Hawai‘i State Department of Health. Evidence of a negative test result must be provided upon arrival in Hawai‘i. Without this, passengers arriving from out-of-state will be subject to the 14-day quarantine. No testing will be provided upon arrival at the airport.

DOH is still in the process of developing this program but anticipates requiring an FDA-approved PCR test from a CLIA certified laboratory. Travelers will be required to provide printed or emailed pre-test certification as evidence of a negative test result. Travelers will be responsible for the cost of the pre-travel test. 

Temperature checks will continue at airports across the state. Anyone with a temperature higher than 100.4 degrees or who is experiencing other symptoms will be required to undergo a secondary screening at the airport with trained healthcare staff. In addition, travelers will be required to fill out the State of Hawai‘i Traveler and Health form. 

Gov. Ige said, “Now is the time to work together to ensure that our residents and local businesses can safely reopen to incoming travelers. We expect more cases as travel reopens and the State is confident in its ability to monitor and respond to new cases. This is a marathon, not a sprint.” Numerous community leaders were instrumental in helping to develop the plan along with county mayor’s and legislative leadership.

State Health Director Dr. Bruce Anderson commented, “Lifting the 14-day quarantine for out-of-state travel will require an intensive airport screening process, increased contact tracing and monitoring of cases, and careful tracking of the state’s progress in controlling and containing the coronavirus. This is a huge undertaking by the state and a tremendous commitment from public health as we embark on these new and untested initiatives and face many unknowns. It is definitely a new normal and we have much to learn as we lift restrictions and rebuild our economy while safeguarding the health of our people.”

Exact details have yet to be figured out. Visitors would need to have the testing done at their own expense prior to getting to the airport and have results in hand.

What is an FDA approved PCR test?

The press release specifically mentions needing an FDA approved PCR test. I know there are several tests out there. Several of my side-job coworkers had them done in the past few months (thankfully testing negative). One had the full-on nasal swab experience (the turnaround time on her particular test was nearly a week), another had a cheek swab and had the results within a few hours. Here is what the FDA has posted on PCR tests – apparently there is even a home test kit. Who knew. At the press conference, Governor Ige mentioned working with CVS pharmacies for this proposed testing.

What does this mean for your Maui trip?

Not having to do the mandatory quarantine is in my mind definitely game-changing when it comes to planning your next Maui trip (or for us Hawaii residents, our next mainland trip). However, there are still many questions to be answered. Will visitors be able to get these tests on the mainland? How can you be sure to get the results on time for your trip? What if you test positive (please get trip cancellation insurance!!)?

I know the Hawaii visitor industry as a whole will be pushing hard for the governor’s office to provide answers and finalize details in the coming weeks. As I find out more information, I will post it here on the website.

Please contact me with questions

If you have a Maui trip booked at one of our condos, please message me. If you’ve booked through VRBO or Airbnb, please message me through those platforms to keep all communication in one place. If you booked direct (good for you! You always save this way), please send me an email.

quarantine
the entrance to our Palms at Wailea condo – taken a few days ago when I prepared our condo for a local family’s staycation. Wish you were here!
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Reopening for vacation rentals!

I had just sent an email to all our upcoming guests yesterday and then sat down to watch Maui Mayor Mike Victorino’s press conference. I was expecting more of the same, information that affects me as I live here, but nothing positive about vacation rentals. Then – surprise! – he announced the reopening of vacation rentals effective June 16, 2020.

What does this mean for you?

If you live in Hawaii or have already finished your 14 day quarantine after arriving in the Islands, we are able to rent to you. We are offering 20% off rates for stays from June-September 2020 – coupon code ALOHA.

If you are coming to the islands and need to do your 14 day quarantine, I’m really sorry – but we cannot rent to you until you have completed the quarantine. Per the governor’s latest decree, we as owners can be held criminally liable if we rent to those under quarantine orders. Yikes.

When will the mandatory quarantine end?

As of this Monday Hawaii Governor Ige extended the mandatory 14 day quarantine through July 31. He talked about infrared temperature scanners and possible testing that will be implemented at island airports in the coming month. We are hoping the quarantine will NOT be extended any further. However, with the recent upswing in Covid cases on the mainland, who knows.

When will the US-Canada border reopen?

I recently read in a CBC article that the Canada/US border is actually only closed to land and sea crossings, but that you can currently fly from Canada into the US. If you can find a flight. Of course, there still is the mandatory 14 day quarantine into Hawaii to deal with. And the mandatory 14 day quarantine back into Canada upon return. It seems like a big hassle.

Continued reopening

On my walk along South Kihei Road yesterday evening I saw patrons sitting on a lanai at Fred’s Mexican Cafe. In normal times the restaurant would be packed with lines out the door, especially on Taco Tuesdays. I’ve seen people in line to pick up take-out, but this was the first time I saw someone being served on the lanai in…. months. I can’t wait til things get back to normal. Whatever the new normal will be.

Stealthy picture of one couple on Fred’s lanai.
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Sugar Beach Walk

Have you been on the Sugar Beach walk? Last weekend the pool at our Sugar Beach Resort condo reopened for condo owners and guests. With Covid-19 restrictions in effect, there are very few owners and guests on property. Sig has been doing a lot of work at our condos and wanted to sit in the hot tub, so off to the pool we went.

I felt the need for exercise and went for a Sugar Beach walk prior to joining him in the hot tub. If you have never been, this is a five mile stretch of beach in North Kihei in front of our Sugar Beach condo. It can get pretty windy, so you may want to time your walk to a less windy time of day to avoid the free exfoliating treatment! One of the best things about this walk is, if you get hot, just step into the ocean to cool off!

hiking
Ahhhhh…. the beach

I do enjoy walking the beach. There were a number of people enjoying the sun, playing in the water, bringing in a sail boat and fishing. A few years ago we saw a fisher catch and then of course release a ray at this beach. That’s certainly not something I’ve seen caught before but I suppose it happens.

Keawe trees

A portion of the beach is lined with Keawe trees. You will want to be very careful around these trees. They have thorns which are painful to step on especially when barefoot. Incidentally it seems every time my brother-in-law goes on a bike ride when on Maui, he gets a flat tire thanks to Keawe tree thorns.

hiking

A rare direct flight!

In other news, while sitting at the pool after my walk, I saw a plane flying into Maui. These days with Covid-19 that is sooo rare. There are currently three direct flights to Maui from the mainland. They are all Delta Airlines and arrive from LAX. If you are flying anywhere else, you have to first fly to Honolulu (HNL) on Oahu and then off. Life sure has changed.

flight
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Quarantine for all arriving in Hawaii

Another day, more news. Yesterday the governor of Hawaii announced a mandatory 14 day quarantine for all arriving in Hawaii starting this Thursday (March 26, 2020).

As you know from mandatory quarantines being instituted elsewhere, in Monopoly terms this means ‘do not pass go’. No stopping at grocery stores or running other errands, just go to your home or condo and order groceries in. The point of the quarantine is to protect others on island in case you have Covid-19. If you are returning home to Hawaii, you have a support system of people to help you with this. If you are coming to Hawaii on vacation – frankly, this is not a vacation. As nice as the condo is, it’s not that nice that you want to spend 14 days in it. Internet speed on Maui is pretty slow.

While it may seem harsh to some, please remember that the Covid-19 situation is a lot worse in other parts of the US. Hawaii is the most isolated center of population on earth, 2400 miles away from the nearest landmass (California). The government feels they have the opportunity but also the obligation to isolate to protect our population as it takes significant time for help and supplies to arrive, if they are even available to come.

What does this mean for you

If you are already on island, the mandatory 14 day quarantine does not affect you. However, on Maui for instance, the social distancing mandate went into effect on Friday (March 20). Return flights are being cut – Westjet I believe stops flying its regular flights today. Hawaiian Airlines has announced they are cutting their flights. My friend’s son just returned from his year abroad in Spain yesterday (yes, he is in quarantine), and I’ve been seeing pictures of very empty airplanes. Please check directly with your airline about your return flight as I’m sure other airlines will be cutting flights in an attempt to preserve funds.

If you are still hoping to come to Hawaii on your vacation, please keep a very close eye on Hawaii news. Things are changing on a daily basis. Great sources are Hawaii News Now for Hawaii news, Maui Now and Maui 24/7 for Maui specific news. If you are staying at one of our condos, please email or call me.

The government sites to check are

Loss of Aloha

There have been reports of sign-wavers near the airport, rudely telling those arriving to go home. This is embarrassing and uncalled for. However, please understand that as everywhere in the world, people are stressed and panicking about their health and our already fragile health care system. Covid-19 has been brought to the islands by those arriving from other places. Ironically the majority of cases are locals returning home, but that fact is lost on the sign-wavers.

Of course, concern regarding visitors is not helped when they are seen blatantly violating social distancing rules (keeping 6 feet distance from others).

Almost everyone I know here in Hawaii is affected by tourism. Social distancing, tourists staying home and mandatory quarantines is creating economic hardship for all on the islands.

Clearing my head

sunset beach activity

Yesterday after an early dinner I went for a walk. If we are healthy, we are still allowed to leave the house and go for walks. It’s been seemingly forever since I went to the beach for sunset. It appears others had the same thoughts as I. One local family was having a beach bbq at the County beach park (I didn’t count to see if they were following the ‘groups of 10 or less’ County rule). Many were standing or sitting on the beach, enjoying the view while a few kids still played in the water.

another day another beautiful sunset

This too will pass. I don’t know when. But it will.

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Kahului Airport rental car tram

Just under a year ago the new rental car facility opened at Kahului Airport. I’ve been admiring it and the new rental car tram every time I drive to and from the airport, but to date I’ve not had the opportunity to check it out. When I arrive on Maui, I’m coming home – and as such I haven’t rented a car on Maui in nearly ten years.

Yesterday I had to pick my husband Sig up from the airport. I left home early with intention of going for a tram ride. Unfortunately the kids are too old to want to go, but once a boy mom, always a boy mom 🙂 It’s a train ride after all!!

You can check out my blog post from last year for info on the car rental facility. But here’s my report from last night.

I parked near the train house and since I had just missed the tram, I opted to walk to the rental car facility. The signs said ‘8 minutes’, but it seemed shorter. Of course, I didn’t have any luggage in tow and I was the only one walking. It’s a nice partially covered walk which will be handy for shade in the daytime and should it be raining.

As you get close to the facility, the ramp goes uphill – not a problem if riding the tram.

The lobby sure is nice. And I particularly like the old fashioned clock. The tram is reminiscent of Maui’s sugar cane train history.

tram
the car rental arrivals facility

Here’s a short video I took getting into the tram at the car rental facility

How was it?

Ok, it was fun. I enjoyed my little adventure. The ride itself isn’t terribly smooth, the cars jiggle and swing around a bit, but totally fine. The car was empty, I think I had just beat the rush as there were both an Alaska Airlines and Westjet flight arriving when I got back to the terminal. If our kids were still little, I’d pick a quiet time, park in airport parking and take them for a tram ride. I got off the tram with a big smile on my face. Yes, several people were hanging out at the OGG arrivals station – they clearly thought I was a little crazy. No matter.

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New Car Rental Facility at OGG

It’s finally time – time to unveil the new car rental facility at Kahului Airport (OGG) here on Maui! Work began 3 years ago in April 2016 and according to the Maui News article construction is now complete. The new facility is scheduled to open May 15th. It’s been a long time coming.

Most airports I’ve traveled to have those handy car rental facilities that you walk to directly from the terminal. Currently here on Maui you catch a shuttle which then takes you to an off-site rental car location – it’s just a short 2 minute drive at most. It’s been fine. But on the off chance you can’t get the car you want at your agency, you then have to walk a ways to the next car rental company to see if they have one.

The new car rental facility is very lovely looking. Honestly, they have added some neat Hawaiian features to the building, I think it looks great. But the best part about the new facility are the two old-style sugar cane train trams that take you from the arrivals area to the new rental car facility. The old sugar cane plantation days may have come and gone here on Maui, but it’s a neat nod to the island’s history. I’ve also seen an old-style clock at the rental car terminal. I just may need to check it out next time I pick up friends/family from the airport.

By the way, no, you don’t have to take the tram. If you’re going to departures, it’s not that far a walk – just across the street. And you could just walk from arrivals too. In fact, after the long flight, it may feel great to get out and stretch a bit. Depending on the time of day, sleepy kids and amount of luggage you have with you.

Kahului car rental
the new ‘sugar cane train’-style tram cars (photo taken in September 2018)

Maui’s sugar cane history

Sugar Cane plays a significant role in Maui’s history since it’s commercial introduction to the island in 1848. Several sugar cane plantations and mills popped up around the island. Owners brought in workers from China, Japan, Puerto Rico, Korea, the Philippines, Portugal, Russia and Scandinavia. It was a hard life, but these people settled, started families and their descendants make up a significant portion of the island’s population today. Check out the Maui Sugar Museum across from the last remaining (now abandoned) Sugar Factory in Kahului. The last sugar cane crop was harvested in December 2016.

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Kahului Airport Car Rental Construction

A few weeks ago I was at Kahului Airport to pick up friends from their mainland trip. If you’ve had to park at the airport in the past year and a half, you will know it’s been a bit of a gong show. Parking has been cut up to 50% percent during the construction of the new car rental facility. Parking has always been a bit tight, but it’s been extreme with people creatively parking where they shouldn’t, making the parking lot even tighter than it should be. The past few weeks it has eased up, as the airport has re-opened former parking spots. Thank goodness!

What are they doing exactly?

The car rental facilities at Kahului Airport have always been off-site, with arriving would-be-renters having to catch car rental company specific shuttle buses to get to their rental counters/car pick up locations. In April 2017 construction began on a new joint car rental facility along the airport road just before you get to the terminal. There will be a solar-powered monorail line with carts that continuously run to and from the terminal, shuttling passengers back and forth. Cool, right? We can’t wait for it to be completed!

Kahului car rentalTwo weeks ago when I was at the airport I got a good shot of one of the new monorail cars which is already parked on the monorail line. Very cool. Unfortunately I have not been able to take a picture (yet) of the new car rental facility – there is just no place to pull over safely and take a picture. But it is looking really good.

From what I can find online, this project isn’t set to complete until next May, so you’ll have to wait to actually check it all out. But I for one am glad that there is an end in sight for this Kahului Airport construction project.

Flight Tracker Apps

By the way, if you are meeting someone at the airport and wondering where their flight is at, or wondering where that plane overhead is going, there are neat flight tracker apps available. I like Flightradar24 on my iPhone (I have the free version with ads). You can search by flight route, or look at certain spots on the global map. It is really cool. Check it out – what flights are tracking to your location right now?

Kahului Airport
this was our friends’ arriving flight – showing their flight route. Click on any of the airplanes or even helicopters for more information about them.

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