Updated: Kauai’s 72 Hour Quarantine and Second COVID-19 Test Proposal Denied by Governor

Why Kauai May Require 72 Hour Quarantine and Second COVID-19 Test

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10/5/20 Update: Hawaii Governor Ige has denied Kauai's proposal for a quarantine and second COVID-19 test, so a negative result from a COVID-19 PCR test taken within the 72 hours prior to travel to Hawaii will be sufficient.

Kauai Wants to Require a Quarantine and Second COVID-19 Test for All Travelers, taken no earlier than 72 hours after arriving in Kauai. Under Mayor Kawakami's proposed plan, visitors and returning residents alike would have to quarantine for 72 hours before getting tested, even if they took a pre-travel test within 72 hours of their flight to Hawaii.

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But Doesn't Hawaii's Reopening Mean the Pre-Arrival COVID-19 Test Exempts Visitors from Quarantine?

Yes, that's how it's supposed to work (see Hawaii Reopening October 15: Coronavirus Test to Skip Quarantine), but Kauai's mayor is asking Governor Ige to approve Kauai's quarantine and second COVID-19 test requirement, in light of the limited medical capabilities on Kauai to deal with a COVID-19 surge, and to protect locals.

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When Will We Know if Kauai Will Have These Additional Requirements?

There's no ETA yet, but let's hope in the next few days Governor Ige clarifies whether he'll approve Kauai's request or not. Travelers and resorts need certainty.

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Why is Kauai Trying to Require This Second COVID-19 Test?

Kauai has limited medical facilities to treat COVID-19 patients, and so far has very few active cases: residents want to keep it that way. The concern is that the pre-travel COVID-19 test will still permit a number of potentially infectious travelers to arrive in Kauai and infect others.

Typically those who become infected with COVID-19 are at their most contagious 3-6 days after becoming infected, although they can be contagious longer than that. If a traveler to Hawaii took a test 72 hours prior to the flight to Hawaii but was infected the day before the test or after taking the test, the test would be negative; Kauai's test, taken 72 hours after arriving on Kauai, however, would most likely be positive, as the virus would have had time to replicate and be detected.

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Will Kauai's Quarantine and Second COVID-19 Test Also Apply to Inter-Island Visitors?

Absolutely, if Ige approves Kauai's request. Note that Hawaii's Reopening and bypassing the 14-day quarantine is ONLY for visiting one island, or an outer island followed by Oahu (since arrivals on Oahu from Maui, Kauai, etc. are not required to quarantine). There simply isn't enough test capacity in Hawaii to offer testing for inter-island travel, so if you first visit Kauai, you'll be subject to the state's 14-day quarantine if you then visit Maui or the Big Island.

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If the Additional Quarantine is Required, Can It Be Completed in a Vacation Rental?

No, unless you actually own the rental property yourself. Everyone else MUST quarantine in a hotel. The penalty for violating this rule is $5000 and up to one year in jail, and applies to the owner, agent and renter.

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The Upshot

Per the latest update, Kauai's proposal has been denied, so a negative COVID-19 PCR test result from a test taken within the 72 hours prior to travel to Hawaii will be sufficient. That said, keep in mind that the 14-day inter-island quarantine is still in effect, travelers will need to stay on one island, they won't be able to island hop from Kauai to Maui or Maui to the Big Island until the inter-island quarantine rules are changed (most likely when Hawaii has sufficient test capacity to be able to test travelers prior to inter-island flights).

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