Hawaii’s inter-island travel quarantine returns with some modifications

Hawaii’s inter-island travel quarantine will be reinstated on Tuesday amid a surge in COVID-19 cases. But the rules are a little different this time.
Updated: Aug. 11, 2020 at 3:33 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - As COVID-19 cases surge on Oahu, Hawaii’s inter-island travel quarantine was reinstated Tuesday in a bid to protect the Neighbor Islands from the spread.

The rules are a little different this time.

For one, travel to Oahu is not restricted. But if you’re flying to any other island, you’ll need to quarantine for 14 days after arrival.

Here’s how the Governor’s Office says the new mandate works:

  • The new order continues through at least Aug. 31. The previous inter-island quarantine was instituted in April and lifted in June.
  • It requires anyone arriving by air on any island except Oahu to quarantine for 14 days.
  • That means Neighbor Island travelers headed to Oahu will be exempt. But those hopping from one Neighbor Island to another will have to quarantine.
  • For example, a traveler going from Maui to Kauai would need to quarantine.
  • Additionally, travelers returning to a Neighbor Island from Oahu will have to self-isolate.

Officials say travelers can also apply for exemptions in limited cases.

If you’re flying into Maui for work or medical reasons, you’ll need to fill out an exemption form.

[Read more: The new inter-island quarantine rules, explained]

You’ll also need a letter from your employer, describing essential work and travel dates.

Or, if you have medical reasons, you need a doctor’s note with your appointment dates. The letter should also say if you need a companion during travel.

But as far as those returning to Maui from a medical appointment, limited quarantine is encouraged.

“They will still be able to come back and be able to go to work but we do not want them intermingling going to social events and things like that,” said Sandy Baz, managing director for the county of Maui.

Kauai County said it is handling all exemptions on a case-by-case basis.

“This is so new for us as far as ... the modified quarantine,” said Kauai Mayor Derek Kawakami.

“But it’s a lot safer for our community and so we’re willing to do the extra work, but for people who do need to go to Oahu for medical treatment, please do so.”

Hawaii County also has modified quarantine for critical infrastructure jobs and medical appointments.

Those traveling for work or medical treatments are disappointed, but say they have no choice.

“I think it’s an inconvenience for us who live on Maui,” said Keith Barona, of Maui. “Especially if you have work, having to go back and forth obviously it’s not ideal.”

“Yes, if I have to come, I’d rather not,” said Patrick Donegan, of the Big Island who was on the Oahu for skin cancer treatments. “I’d rather get it done on the Big Island, but we don’t have the doctors there.”

Kevin Farm, also from Hawaii Island, supports the quarantine.

But he says it will be another few months until he sees family again.

“The last time the inter-island ban kicked in, I didn’t see my mother for three months, so I think it’s important to bond with your mother before the travel ban kicks in,” said Farm. “So I’m going back here on Monday afternoon before it kicks in Tuesday.”

Essential workers will only be allowed to leave their place of lodging for work purposes.

Neighbor Island mayors had asked for the quarantine to be reinstated. They said it’s vital that the surge of COVID-19 cases on Oahu not be allowed to spread to other islands.

To file an exemption in Maui County, send an email to TravelExemption@mauicounty.gov.

To file an exemption in Kauai County, click here.

To file an exemption in County of Hawaii, click here.

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