Tag: flights

The Canadians are back!

Late March 2020 the border between Canada and the US was closed and Canadian airlines Westjet and AirCanada cancelled all Hawaii flights. Covid was upon us all and noone knew what to expect next.

The airlines have been teasing customers with flights this fall, only to cancel them due to the persistent 14 day mandatory quarantine upon arrival to Hawaii. Mid-October the State started the pre-travel test exemption, but the approved tests were only available on the US mainland. As of December 17 there are now Canadian testing options and we are thrilled! Hawaii is after all the closest warm-weather destination for Canadians on the West Coast (though still a 6+ hour flight away).

For much more pre-travel test information please FIRST check the official State of Hawaii Covid Travel website (note, things change regularly, so check back often). Then (if you are traveling from Canada), check with your airline for further testing information. At this time AirCanada and Westjet both run the official pre-travel test program for Canadians traveling to Hawaii.

We were driving to Kahului yesterday afternoon as I saw a Westjet flight come in. I double checked my flight tracker app (I use the free Flightradar24 app on my phone) and sure enough – it was coming from Vancouver. I then googled more information, turns out it was the FIRST Westjet flight arriving on Maui since late March! Welcome back!

About half hour later I saw another plane arriving – Flightradar showed me it was Air Canada – their very first Covid-era direct flight from Calgary.

Mandatory Quarantine on return to Canada

As Canadians will know, there is currently a mandatory 14 day quarantine for all arrivals to Canada. However, Alberta currently has a pilot-program to avoid the mandatory quarantine. I am hoping BC will follow suit. Sure would be nice to go see our Canadian family again! It’s been a long year….

State of Hawaii Mandatory Quarantine Change

As I mentioned, things change from time to time. This week the State of Hawaii officially shortened the mandatory quarantine from 14 to ten days. This applies to all arrivals who do not have a Hawaii State approved negative Covid test in hand on arrival in Hawaii. Please check their website for much more information.

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Lahaina in late November

Last weekend we headed up to Lahaina for a family outing. The given excuse was to buy soccer cleats at Adidas, but really, we just needed to get out and do something as a family. We hadn’t been to Lahaina since July. At that time only a quarter of shops had been open and frankly it was depressing.

Here we are 1 1/2 months into Hawaii having reopened for tourism with the pre-travel test option, and I am happy to report that places are reopening. Yes, there are still many empty shops and boarded up windows, but many businesses are trying to make a go of it. Our tourism numbers aren’t nearly where they used to be, but we are thankful for those who have returned.

Just how many visitors are arriving?

I’ve spent my early morning looking at some of the online statistics. It’s really quite fascinating. Did you know, at this time Maui is getting roughly the same number of daily arriving visitors as Oahu? Interesting since typically Oahu (particularly Waikiki) is the most well-known Hawaiian island.

Here is the arrivals table from December 3, 2020 which gives you a snapshot of that day’s arrivals. (Hawaii Tourism Authority for more daily stats). By contrast, in 2019 Maui was averaging 7000 visitor arrivals/day (so we are approximately at 25% right now compared to last year).

Hawaii arrivals statistics for December 3, 2020

You will note Lihue (Kauai) has next to no arrivals. As of December 2, 2020 that County is taking a temporary break from the pre-travel test program. All arrivals will need to do a mandatory 14 day quarantine no matter what their test result. Not surprisingly this has brought their arrivals to a screeching halt from average arrivals of 500-700/day in November.

Did you know?

A number of years ago a friend told me the cost of rents on Front Street. At the time had several family members who owned jewelry businesses on front street. He said typical rent for a Front Street store was $30,000/month. It blew my mind. Just now I found a listing for the former Na Hoku store at 924 sq ft on Front Street for $26/sq ft. That’s $24,024 plus tax/month (never mind your other costs). How many customers do you need to bring in to make those numbers work? No wonder some of these businesses are slow to reopen or permanently gone.

lahaina
my Volcano Burger at Teddy’s Bigger Burgers was delicious

Teddy’s Bigger Burgers

We tried a new place for dinner. In our soccer cleats quest, we ended up at the Lahaina Gateway Center which used to have a shoe store (no more). There we did find Teddy’s Bigger Burgers. I’d heard about their amazing burgers, so we gave them a try. My volcano burger was great!

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Finally – Hawaii State approved Covid tests for Canadians!

Exciting news from the Hawaii State Governor today. They have announced new testing options that will allow Canadians to fly directly to Hawaii!

On October 15th the State of Hawaii started allowing visitors to present a pre-travel Covid test to avoid the mandatory 14 day quarantine. To be clear, this test must be taken no more than 72 hours prior to the last leg of your flight to Hawaii (if it’s a multi-leg flight). The catch is that you have to have the test done at one of the ‘trusted testing partners’. Originally these partners were only in US locations, then it was expanded to include Japanese partners. And now, ta-da, finally we have Canadian options, which are specifically through Air Canada and Westjet, the two Canadian airlines that fly to Hawaii.

Both Westjet and AirCanada will be posting all the information to their website in the coming days, so please do check there for details. Note, very importantly, please study the Hawaii Covid Travel website thoroughly to ensure you have the correct information (and note, it is in flux and changing – so check back). You will also need a Safe Travels account.

What about quarantine on return to Canada?

Yes, as Canadians know, there is currently a mandatory 14 day quarantine for all returning to Canada. There is however currently a pilot program at Calgary International Airport (YYC) which allows those returning to severely shorten the quarantine. Note, at this time the physical border between Canada and US is closed. Canadians may fly into the US, however under most circumstances Americans are not allowed to fly into Canada.

What countries are next?

The Governor just mentioned South Korea is in talks with the State of Hawaii to offer testing options also. New Zealand and Australia may be on the horizon, but per the governor, ‘the problem is, Hawaii is part of the United States and many countries have shut down travel to the United States’. So we’ll see what happens.

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Changes – you must have your pre-travel test results prior to traveling

On October 15th the State of Hawaii started a pre-travel test program. Travelers have the option to skip the mandatory 14 day quarantine by getting a negative Covid test no more than 72 hours prior to the last leg of their flight to Hawaii.

You have to take the test with one of the State’s ‘trusted testing partners’ in order for the State to accept it. A friend’s daughter just arrived with a wrong test. Additionally she didn’t receive her result (negative) until after her arrival. As she took the wrong test, she has to quarantine for fourteen days regardless of the fact that she is negative. Bummer.

The big change is…. Starting Tuesday November 24th, ALL RESULTS MUST BE IN HAND PRIOR TO BOARDING YOUR FLIGHT. The State wants you to stay home (not travel) should you test positive. They do not want you to arrive and then find out that you are positive. Should you fly to Hawaii and not have your results (either uploaded to the Safe Travels App or in hand), as of Tuesday November 24 you will be subject to the mandatory 14 day quarantine, even if you receive your results after arrival. This new policy applies to all domestic and international flights. Per the governor’s news conference this change is due to the increases in Covid numbers on the US mainland but also worldwide.

The Governor stated that 94% of travelers arrived with their tests. However, there have been 40+ who have arrived and then gotten positive results after arrival. Note, the State of Hawaii currently has the lowest per capita incidence of Covid19 in the country.

For much more information about the State of Hawaii’s pre-travel test program, please carefully study the State’s Covid Travel website. And please check it regularly – details have been changing from time to time.

What do you do if your results don’t arrive on time?

Canadian airlines Air Canada and Westjet both had reps on the State of Hawaii Governor’s press conference today. Both stated that should the results not be back on time, travelers could change their flights free of charge. The Lieutenant Governor thought the US airlines would have similar policies.

My question to that is – by bumping your flights back by a day or two, would you not need to re-test as you would no longer be in the 72 hour window?

Please, if you choose to travel at this time (and we would love to have you), make sure you purchase Cancel for Any Reason Trip Insurance which specifically covers Covid19.

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Hawaii’s Grand Reopening

Can you believe it – after nearly 7 months of Covid, our politicians are going ahead with Hawaii’s grand reopening! Kinda. Sorta.

Nearly a month ago the Governor announced October 15, 2020 as the official date when travelers can take a pre-travel Covid test to avoid the mandatory 14 day quarantine. Then a few weeks later the individual County mayors piped up with their own ideas. Nothing like waiting until last minute to add more confusion to the mess.

The long and short of it is, many of Hawaii’s residents are worried about the reopening. Those not personally affected by the disappearance of tourism would rather just keep things as they are and wait out the pandemic. Maui and Kauai are offering voluntary secondary Covid tests to be taken 3 days after arrival. There are additional rules for inter-island travel.

EVERYTHING IS STILL IN FLUX. PLEASE DOUBLE CHECK THE STATE’S RULES REPEATEDLY IN THE DAYS LEADING UP TO YOUR ARRIVAL TO ENSURE YOU HAVE THE UPDATED INFORMATION.

Maui’s economy thanks our politicians. Kinda. We could have done without the added drama.

Hawaii's grand reopening
Kahului airport – where is everyone?

How will this reopening work?

Great question. The mandatory 14 day quarantine will continue for all who do not take a pre-travel Covid test.

  1. Please purchase a trip cancellation insurance policy which covers Covid-19 cancellations.
  2. Read up on the Hawaii Travel Covid website for much more information including frequently asked questions.
  3. All travelers will need to sign up on the Safe Travels website/app prior to travel.
  4. Figure out where and how to take your pre-travel Covid test at your expense. Note you need to take this test within 72 hours of your scheduled flight (or the scheduled last leg of your flight to Hawaii). The State of Hawaii requires very specific tests (make sure you get the right one) and you will want your results back PRIOR to arriving on Maui. All traveling in your group will need to take the test including children 5+ years old.
  5. Upload your negative test results to the Safe Travels website/app.
  6. Keep a copy of your results on hand to provide to your condo/hotel provider. The rental car people may need them also (they are currently not able to rent to those in quarantine, so you will need proof of test results).
  7. If you are staying at one of our Maui Oceanview Condos, you will not be able to stay in our condos should you or anyone in your travel group have a POSITIVE test. Again, as noted in all of your rental agreements, PLEASE PURCHASE CANCELLATION INSURANCE. We can be fined if one of our guests break their quarantine. We are not able to take that risk.

Please note, everything has been changing frequently. If you have an upcoming trip, please keep a close eye on the official government websites for changes.

Hawaii's Grand Reopening
the current pre-travel flow chart

What can you expect on Maui?

Hawaii's grand reopening
Welcome to Maui

As with everywhere, Maui also has Covid rules. Here are some of the highlights. Read here for much more detail.

  • Indoor/outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people are permitted.
  • Everyone must wear face coverings/masks when away from your place of residence. All ages 5 and up must wear masks with exception of when swimming or when engaging in strenuous physical activity (with proper social distancing). Note, to date enforcement has been rather lax. We expect with the arrival of more visitors, enforcement will pick up. Hey – this is your chance to add some Hawaii-themed face masks to your collection.
  • People who are sick are to stay in their residences except to seek medical help.
  • Try to maintain social distancing of 6 feet from those not within your immediate group.
  • As of right now, if traveling inter-island (except to Oahu), you will need to quarantine on that island for 14 days. The Governor and mayors are hoping to have a pre-travel test option, but this is NOT confirmed at this time.

Many shops and restaurants have shuttered in the past 7 months, some temporarily, some permanently. Some are on limited hours, while others are waiting to reopen once tourism restarts. We are all waiting for Hawaii’s Grand Reopening. Yes, we are a little worried but also very relieved.

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How can I get a pre-travel Covid test?

As you may know, Governor Ige recently announced that starting October 15 travelers can avoid mandatory quarantine by taking a pre-travel Covid test up to 72 hours prior to arrival. This sounds great, until you start thinking about how to get that test.

In the past few days United Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines have stepped up and announced they will be offering pre-travel tests for a fee. Of course, we will need to see if the tests meet the State of Hawaii’s guidelines, but I would certainly hope they do. Airlines have been suffering severe financial losses throughout this Covid period. It seems to me they would be highly motivated to get people flying again. Hopefully we will be seeing more of these announcements in coming days.

Oakland airport (California) announced yesterday they will be offering FREE rapid tests to Hawaii travelers – more details to come. Free. Really? Free?

I am hopeful in the next few weeks we will see more airlines and airports come up with pre-travel test options to simplify the process for Hawaii-bound travelers. I also hope the cost of the tests comes down (although free would be best, of course).

How are bookings going?

In the past month or two we had lost most of our fall and Christmas bookings due to the uncertainty of when the State would reopen, health concerns, financial difficulties, job losses etc.

Enjoying our beach walk

Since the October 15th reopening announcement we have been taking a few bookings and our schedules have been filling up again. No worries, if you are still thinking of a fall Maui trip, we still have some openings. In fact, we have a sale! 20% off all bookings of one week or longer between now and February 2021. And for fall we also have a monthly discount (Christmas excluded). Please send me an inquiry or give me a call and I’d be happy to give you more information!

We can’t wait to welcome visitors back to our condos!

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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.

I would love to have you follow us on social media

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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