Our Maui Travels During Covid
Aloha! It's been quite a while since I've written anything here. I just didn't see the point, as we've all been hunkered down at home, and not traveling. It's been a really long year for everyone. What happens if you booked a trip to Hawaii over a year ago (pre-pandemic), and never thought we'd still be mired in this mess 13 months later? Do you go? Do you cancel (and lose thousands)? Yes, we could've cancelled a few months ago, and played it super safe. But, hope of the vaccine was real, and safety measures taken by the Hawaiian State Government seemed to be working. Hawaii has one of the lowest infection rates in the nation. Flying appears to be a safe mode of travel, since the air onboard is constantly refreshed. Pre-flight Covid testing is mandatory for all Hawaii travelers.
So, we decided to go.
Look, I realize this won't sit well with some people. I get it. Most people have been doing their part to keep the spread of this virus under control. Some may feel like we're doing something wrong by traveling. The risk is too high for the reward. There's calculated risk in everything we do. We are taking every measure possible to stay safe. It's much more than wearing a mask.
Hawaii requires all incoming travelers to be tested (with a negative result) within 72 hours of departure of the final leg of their trip. It must be conducted by a vendor on the State's list. We chose a home test from Costco. We had to schedule a video appointment with a health professional from Azova Labs. This test has to be conducted within that 72 hour window. You must then take the test to UPS. The lab "should" receive the test 24 hours later. You "should" have your results 24-48 hours after that. If anything goes wrong with the timing, and you don't have your negative result (and the corresponding QR code uploaded to your phone) before your final leg, you MUST quarantine for 10 days upon arrival to Hawaii. No exceptions. Your hotel key only works once (our condo won't even allow anyone on quarantine). If you leave, you're subject to arrest and a $4000 fine. As I'm writing this, I see how crazy it all sounds. I mean, what if our flight is delayed, or we get rerouted? How does that affect the 72 hour window?
Return to our state is just as strict. We need a test within 72 hours of departure from Hawaii (I think we're going to use United Airlines test partner for that). We must quarantine 72 hours after we get home, be tested again after that and wait for the results, before we are free to go out.
Seems like a relaxing vacation so far, huh?
Will it be worth it? I'll have to let you know. If it goes off without a hitch, it could be just what we're dreaming it will be. 14 days in a much needed paradise we've grown to absolutely love. Most everything you do in Hawaii is outdoors. You can avoid crowds quite easily. I'm no more worried about getting infected on this trip, than I would be if we stayed home. In fact, we're probably more at risk going to the grocery store or Walmart here at home.
So, I know there will be haters, no matter what. If you haven't gone to a restaurant or a bar in the past year, I commend you. If you have, I think this trip represents a lower risk.
Aloha for now, Jim
Our covid test never made it to the lab in Georgia due to weather. So, we had to reschedule our flight to 4 days later, in order to take a new test (this time at Walgreens). Luckily, our schedules are flexible at this point in our lives. Also luckily, we were able to extend our stay in Maui an extra 5 days. So, at this point, we'll have 15 days if all goes according to plan. On top of that, we're currently facing a severe winter storm. I'm currently trying to move our flights to Chicago and Denver up one day to beat the storm. If we can do
that, we'll stay overnight in Denver.
So, we did fly out a day early. That was a good idea. We just beat the storms. We’re staying at the Westin at the Denver Airport. So going back to retrieve a late bag wasn’t much of a hassle. We ended up going back through security with a gate pass. Since our second test never made it to Tennessee for processing. One of the reasons we chose Denver as a layover is because of Xprescheck. It's a private company administering rapid covid testing right in the airport. Results in 15 minutes. The reason we didn't just plan on using this from the start was the price. But, we now finally have our negative results and corresponding forms, $400 later. $650 if you count the original test that never made it to Georgia. But, hey. I guess that’s the current price of paradise. Our flight leaves for Maui at 12:10pm Mountain Time. 🛫🏝
Post Trip Update:
We just got home yesterday, after a glorious 15 days in Maui. It was well worth the extra hassle of testing and precaution. Maui is still Maui. Everyone there is very mask conscious. Practically, no one crowds your personal space. Masks are not required outside when exercising, although about half those I saw did. You are "required" to wear them outside otherwise. It isn't really enforced, but people do it anyway. Of course, if you're in your own space at the beach or pool, you're not wearing them unless you're approached by someone. Just common sense, really. In grocery stores, shops (any gathering place indoors) they are mandatory, and I saw no one refusing to comply. They are required at restaurants and bars when not seated. You are not required to order food when drinking alcohol (as you are in New York State).
We were required to get a covid test in Hawaii within 72 hours of return to New York. We chose Doctors on Call Maui. They were excellent. Very professional, friendly and helpful. There are locations in Lahaina and Kahului. $93ea. for the rapid test.
(Stay tuned in April or May for info regarding vaccinated travelers. They're currently considering an exemption.)
We are also required (in NY) to quarantine for 4 days to start, then receive a second Covid test. If those results are negative you may leave quarantine. Unless you're an essential worker. In that case, you are allowed to work while under quarantine. Crazy. So, I can go drive a School Bus. But, I can't grocery shop. 🤷🏻♂️
Anyway, stay tuned for pics!