Reservations required to visit Hawaii’s famous Diamond Head State Monument
Out-of-state visitors to the Diamond Head State Monument in Hawaii, locally known as Lē’ahi, are now required to make reservations prior to the visit. Residents have free access to the park but those …
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KAHULUI (HawaiiNewsNow) – Starting Saturday, masks will no longer be required indoors in Hawaii. Along with that, the state’s Safe Travels program will come to an end, signifying one of the most historic days of the two-year pandemic in the islands.
Maui tattoo artist Desmond Alexander said it has been a long two years and he is excited to take off his mask and travel without restrictions once again.
“It’s been a long time coming and everyone’s excited about it for a bunch of reasons…traveling, restaurant, sports, activities,” the owner of Sacred Ties Tattoo said.
Alexander said prior to the pandemic, about 80% of his customers were visitors. He is hoping business will finally get back to normal.
“That’s everyone’s goal,” Alexander said. “But you never know. Just go day by day, that’s all you can do.”
Pennsylvania resident Eric Kadel said he too is looking forward to hopping on a plane without the extra steps.
“The hoops you have to go through to get the QR code. If you needed to get a test that had to be within 72 hours, and then you’re sweating whether or not you’re going to get the results, and then hope that you’re negative,” Kadel said.
While Safe Travels will be going away, federal regulations still require masks inside of airports and airplanes until April 18.
“We want to thank the traveling public. We want to thank the local community and everybody else who helped make this possible to keep us safe as a community. Was it a headache? Yes, it was. Was had a challenge? Yes, it was. But at the end of the day, I think it made Maui a safer community,” said Maui Airport District Manager Marvin Moniz.
Copyright 2022 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.
Friday’s announcement was welcomed news for many people in the tourism industry including here in Hawaii. Bruce Fisher, owner of Hawaii Aloha Travel, says international visitors are better for the local economy because they tend to stay longer and spend more. The industry is hopeful for a more vibrant 2022 but right now Hawaii still has travel restrictions in place for visitors from many foreign countries.
HONOLULU (AP) — Hawaii Gov. David Ige said Friday he would extend emergency orders requiring masks and regulating travel amid ongoing concerns about high numbers of COVID-19 infections.
Ige said his new proclamation would stay in effect for 60 days. The rules mandate masks in indoor public spaces. To avoid 10 days of quarantine upon arriving in the islands, travelers must show proof of vaccination or a negative result from a COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of their flight to Hawaii.
The governor said he was concerned that the seven-day average of new daily cases continues to exceed 300. He noted that while that’s down from late August when the figure approached 900, it’s still higher than last year’s peak.
He said he was watching closely whether hospitals have enough beds and staff to care for the sick. He noted Hawaii’s geographic isolation means patients can’t drive to neighboring states for healthcare if local hospitals are full.
Earlier this year Ige had hoped to lift restrictions once 70% of the state’s population was vaccinated, but he said “everything changed” with the spread of the highly contagious delta variant of the disease. On Friday, 68% of the state’s population was fully vaccinated.
Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
“We’re honored to be a Trusted Testing Partner with the State of Hawai’i. At Ontario Airport, we’re committed to the safety and well-being of our passengers, and throughout the pandemic, we’ve implemented industry-leading health protocols, including our on-site testing clinic. Hawaiian Airlines’ new service to Honolulu has been very popular with ONT passengers, and we look forward to creating even more travel opportunities to the great State of Hawai’i,” said Alan D. Wapner, President of the OIAA Board of Commissioners and Mayor pro tem for the City of Ontario.
Technology comes naturally to me, so using Hawaii’s Safe Travels website, which allows travelers with negative COVID-19 test results to avoid the state’s 14-day quarantine requirement, wasn’t that big of a deal.
Honestly, I welcome any chance to skip through a bureaucratic process digitally, especially when it involves airports and traveling because I go back and forth between Oahu and Kauai a lot.
The process went like this: Click through every trusted partner website to see what can be covered by insurance. Nothing there for me. No available dates for one provider but another provider had time. Signed up for new accounts online for the state and the trusted clinical lab that did my COVID-19 test. Verified my identity so I could receive my test results online in a secure manner. Saved the PDF and re-uploaded it to the Safe Travels website for verification. Got the QR code via email, and saved it for arrival at the airport.
It’s pretty involved and at times pretty confusing. So I wasn’t surprised that 40% of travelers in the first week after the program began Oct. 15 showed up with the wrong kind of test results. Or that the airport check-out process was backlogged because many forms had to be read manually by airport agents.
Glitches and problems are a normal part of any new program, especially when we’re talking about government-made apps, I’ve come to realize. But it’s one thing to know that and another to see it in action.
When I landed in Lihue on a Friday evening, I joined a line of about a hundred people from what I’m guessing was a couple of different flights including my own. That line, for the next 30 minutes or so, would not budge at all.
There seemed to be only three officers — National Guard or Kauai Police Department — checking people out on their iPads.
Dozens of travelers in line clutched their paper results in their hands, which made me think a fair number of people didn’t know how to, or couldn’t, get the PDF to upload onto the Safe Travels website. Glitch? Those paper forms, of course, had to be read manually, and undoubtedly slowed things down.
Some people were in line filling out forms. What forms, though? I’m not sure. Were they forms for people choosing to quarantine instead? I asked one of the airport staff who didn’t seem to know.
These passengers arriving at Daniel K. International Airport on Oahu seem just as crowded and confused as my people did when we stood in line on Kauai for more than hour recently.
Cory Lum/Civil Beat
The woman in front of me said she was choosing to quarantine, but I never ended up seeing what she had to do, because I was busy getting questioned by a police officer and a National Guardsman at the same time. Also, why were we in the same line?
So. Much. Confusion.
At some point, a National Guardsman walked by, asking out loud, “Does everyone have their QR code?”
“What’s a QR code?”somebody yelled. Problem?
By the time I actually reached someone with an iPad who scanned my QR code, it had been about an hour since I landed in Lihue. Normally it takes about 5 minutes from the time you get off the plane til you’re out the door.
Well, not this time.
After scanning the QR code, the National Guardsman asked to see my test result form. I literally blurted out, “But why?”
The program is designed to show “COVID-19 negative” if the result was indeed negative and from a trusted partner, both of which were true in my case.
Still, I pulled the PDF up from my smartphone files. But what if people don’t know how to do this? Quarantine? Detention? Glitch?
I’m trying to imagine my mother, who knows how to access her email and use a couple of messenger apps on her phone, doing all of this.
Then I try to imagine me trying to explain to her how to go through this process.
Let’s just say … nope. Chances are that she’d end up showing up at the airport with the wrong form and be that old lady in line asking what a QR code is.
The goal is to make sure people coming to the islands don’t have COVID-19. Maybe there’s a way to do that that’s a little less confusing for the non-techies among us.
The barrier to coming to Hawaii should be COVID-19, not knowing how to upload a PDF.
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