A review of the past two years of Hawaii’s COVID-19 restrictions

Now that Hawaii’s Safe Travels program and indoor mask mandates have been lifted, we thought it would be interesting to look back on the long journey it took to get to this point. So we poured through our archives to highlight some of the key milestones since March 6, 2020.

March 6, 2020 – First COVID-19 Case

Hawaii recorded its first confirmed COVID-19 case on March 6, 2020. The person was an Oahu resident who had traveled on the Grand Princess cruise ship, which had a widely reported COVID outbreak. By the end of March, Hawaii had identified 224 cases in total.

March 17, 2020 – First Restrictions Announced

Governor Ige held a press conference on March 17, 2020, announcing the first restrictions that would go into effect on March 20, 2020. Closures included parks, theaters, visitor attractions, churches, restaurants (except for takeout) and bars. In addition, in his press conference, Gov. Ige said that he strongly encouraged visitors to postpone their vacations for at least the next 30 days.

March 21, 2020 – Mandatory 14-day traveler quarantine announced.

On March 21, 2020, Gov. Ige announced a mandatory 14-day quarantine for all incoming travelers. Persons subject to quarantine were not permitted to leave their place of quarantine for the entire 14-day period. This mandate went into effect on March 26, 2020.

April 17, 2020 – Hawaii closes all beaches.

As part of the governor’s new restrictions, no one was allowed to sit, stand, lie down, lounge, sunbathe or loiter on the coastline.

April 26, 2020 – 14-Day travel quarantine expanded to include Hawaii inter-island travel.

Mid-May 2020 – Island mayors begin to reopen beaches.

June 8, 2020 – Most state parks re-open and “passive” beach use is allowed.

June 16, 2020 – Inter-island quarantine restriction lifted.

June 24, 2020 – Pre-travel program to allow travelers to bypass quarantine first announced. Originally to be implemented August 1, 2020, but ultimately delayed.

August 11, 2020 – Partial inter-island quarantine reinstated.

With a surge in cases, particularly on Oahu, a partial inter-island 14-day quarantine was put back into place.

October 15, 2020 – Hawaii opens travel with pre-travel testing, i.e., Safe Travels Hawaii program

Originally the state’s Safe Travels program was planned to be implemented August 1, 2020. Then they aimed for September 1, then October 1, but it wasn’t until October 15 that it was finally implemented. Even then, there were some last-minute hesitations, but ultimately all the islands decided to participate in the program. Though the islands were opening to tourism, many tours, restaurants, hotels and attractions remained closed for weeks and even months.

November 16, 2020 – Gov. Ige issues a new emergency proclamation to clarify the statewide mask mandate.

December 4, 2020 – Quarantine period reduced from 14 days to 10 days.

December 2, 2020 – Kauai opts out of the Safe Travels program, which required mandatory 14-day quarantine again.

December 17, 2020 – For travelers not participating in the pre-travel testing, the mandatory quarantine period reduced from 14 days to 10 days.

January 5, 2021 – Kauai reopens to travelers, but with new, complex stipulations to minimize quarantine.

April 5, 2021 – Kauai rejoins the statewide Safe Travels program.

May 25, 2021 – Statewide outdoor mask mandate lifted.

June 15, 2021 – All inter-island travel restrictions lifted.

June 15, 2021 – Persons vaccinated in Hawaii are no longer required to pre-test when traveling to Hawaii in order to bypass quarantine.

July 8, 2021 – Fully vaccinated travelers no longer have to pre-test in order to bypass quarantine.

August 23, 2021 – Governor asks visitors to reduce travel to Hawaii.

With Hawaii’s largest surge at that time, the governor held a press conference asking visitors not to travel to Hawaii for non-essential reasons. He described it as a “risky time to travel.” He stated that travel should be held off until the end of October.

Mid-September, 2021 – Both Maui and Oahu require proof of full vaccination or negative test for restaurants, bars, gyms, etc.

Note that Kauai and Hawaii (Big) Island did not implement similar rules.

November 1, 2021 – Governor says visitors welcome back to Hawaii again.

January 3, 2022 – Quarantine period reduced from 10 days to 5 days.

January 2022 – Maui requires proof of booster vaccine for access to restaurants, bars, gyms.

The mayor of Maui originally announced that proof of boosters would be required effective January 8, 2022, but this requirement was delayed until January 24, 2022. Proof of negative test was also accepted for access. As you will see below, this requirement was ultimately dropped within two weeks of being in effect.

January 9, 2022 – The first cruise ship returns to Hawaii after a nearly two-year pause.

February 7, 2022 – Maui drops booster requirement for access to restaurants, bars, gyms, etc.

February 21, 2022 – Maui drops all vaccine passport or test requirements for access to restaurants, bars, gyms, etc.

March 6, 2022 – Oahu drops all vaccine passport or test requirements for access to restaurants, bars, gyms., etc.

March 1, 2022 – Hawaii’s governor announces the Safe Travels program to end on March 25.

March 8, 2022 – Hawaii’s governor announces the state’s indoor mask mandate to end on March 25.

March 26, 2022 – No pre-test or vaccine passport required for travelers to Hawaii. Indoor masks are no longer required.

Whew! We’ve all navigated a long, arduous COVID restrictions trip these past two years! As we created this timeline, we were reminded of how strict measures have been.

In addition to what we listed above, there were other discussions and island-specific rules that we didn’t include in the timeline just to keep it cleaner. A few worth mentioning are:

  • Resort bubbles – remember those? They were quite controversial.
  • Periods of testing upon arrival on Hawaii (Big) Island and Maui.
  • Contact tracing apps.

After reviewing this timeline, did you find any surprises or things you had forgotten about?

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