A strict new rule went into effect yesterday (11/24/20) which now requires all inbound travelers to have their negative pre-travel NAAT COVID test (taken no longer than 72 hours prior to your scheduled departure time) results in hand & uploaded to the Safe Travels website prior to your scheduled flight departure in order to bypass the mandatory 14-day self-quarantine.
The big change here, is that pre-Nov 24th; travelers were allowed to go under temporary quarantine until their results came in (see figure 1 below). This was the case for many travelers with the labs being so backed up that they could not guarantee results fast enough (myself included, on two separate occasions).
A lot of people were flying in without having received their test results and were just hoping for the best, staying in self-quarantine until results came in...sometimes 2-4 days after arrival.
Now, without results in hand prior to departure; it is a mandatory 14-day self-quarantine, no exceptions.
There is also a mandatory 14-day self-quarantine for all travelers traveling between islands, except for those traveling from a neighbor island to Oahu. This inter-island policy seems to be a little more forgiving though as it is actually a lot easier than you might think to get tested here in Hawaii by an approved testing vendor, with lab results coming back really fast (in my experience, my result came back the next day). More on that below.
Figure 1: Old Rules
IMPORTANT THINGS TO CONSIDER
1) You must take the test no more than 72 hrs/3 days PRIOR to your scheduled departure time.
2) The test must be done by an approved vendor (link below).
3) You must have your negative test results printed and in hand as well as uploaded to Safe Travels website PRIOR to your scheduled departure, NO EXCEPTIONS.
4) Negative COVID test is ALSO required with inter-island travel (except for ppl traveling from a neighboring island to Oahu as stated above).
WHAT'S FRUSTRATING ABOUT IT
The major problem with this new rule is that as COVID-19 cases have continued to rise, there has been a huge influx of people getting tested lately. This has caused a pretty significant delay in lab result return times and it is absolutely impossible to get a firm guarantee from anyone that you will get your results in time.
The good thing is that it looks like the approved testing partners are working really hard to accommodate these new requirements. So far I have experienced and heard various feedback on test result turn times from various vendors.
My last test was done through Quest out of a Dr. office in Palo Alto (who then mailed it overnight to Los Angeles) and my results didn't come back until the 4th day (past 72 hrs). My colleague had the same experience using CVS but his results didn't come back for a full 6 days. We have some more people coming in over the next few weeks so I will try to update this article with our their result turn times using Kaiser and Vault Health.
TOP TESTING VENDORS SO FAR
The #1 front runner out of the approved vendors in my book right now is still VAULT HEALTH (who I recommended back in July) especially as they have recently teamed up with Hawaiian Airlines.
Vault offers the best convenience as they allow you to order the test through the mail ($119), take it at home in their virtual "Zoom Room", you mail it in and your results are sent electronically before the deadline. No waiting in long lines, exposing yourself unnecessarily or driving anywhere...except to the post office. Costco also offers a mail in testing option with virtual test monitoring but I don't know of anyone who has used that one yet.
I haven't seen guarantees from any testing vendors so you will have to chose which one is right for you and your budget of course; I just wanted everyone to be aware of the new rule and to plan accordingly!
Please be sure to always go off of the approved vendors list provided by the state (link in button below). The graphic below the button shows some of the top vendors for your reference.
With this new rule to consider; I have pulled together some of the best resources to help you navigate this process.
Below you will find for your reference a current step by step Hawaii Travel Checklist, a 72 hours testing guideline from Vault Health, the most accurate resource links, and a Travel Document Checklist of recommended paperwork to carry with you.
***For flight crews, I highly recommend applying for CISA crew-member exemption status and will provide instructions, links and a checklist for that soon.
Mail-In Testing Tips
Mail-in ordering and testing guidelines from Vault Health:
Vault Health tips for mail-in test shipping:
Top Links for HAWAII TRAVEL Info
Exemption Application Process Info Coming Soon!
Make sure you're following all the updated guidelines so you and your crew/clients/family don't get stuck in quarantine!
The date of this article is 11/25/20. Please be sure to do your own research prior to any travel planning to ensure accurate rules are being followed as they have been changing a lot lately.
Safe travels everyone! :)
Kelly -> Yourgotofa,
P.S. If you'd like a free pdf of any of the checklists, please email
me your request at: firstname.lastname@example.org