Two popular Maui travel message boards on Facebook saw a spike in questions as soon as news spread Monday that Hawaii Gov. David Ige urged tourists to stay away through October.
“I fly out tomorrow and leave Monday. If they shut down the state within that time would we get stuck there? Or will they allow us to leave?”
“Does anybody know if Costco Travel is refunding based on the governor’s latest announcement?”
“When is the governor suggesting travel could reasonably resume as (trip) planning is taking place?”
Traveler confusion is to be expected given ever-changing COVID-19 travel restrictions around the world, and Hawaii’s rules are among the most stringent.
Here’s what travelers need to know about travel to Hawaii this fall:
Can you still travel to Hawaii?
Hawaii didn’t change its entry requirements Monday. Travelers must still be vaccinated or present negative results from a coronavirus test taken no more than three days before departure to bypass a mandatory 10-dayquarantine. The governor simply asked tourists not to visit Hawaii through October because of a surge in COVID-19 cases, which he said has hospitals and intensive care units at capacity. Ige asked airlines, hotels and other tourism businesses to spread the message and do what they can to discourage travel.
Tourism is approaching pre-pandemic levels in Maui. Here are 4 tips to make the most of your Maui vacation this crowded summer.
Is Hawaii shutting down again?
No, at least not yet.
Ige was asked during a news conference at what point in the case surge the state would consider lockdowns, which were prevalent across the country in the early months of the pandemic. In Hawaii, beaches and parks and other outdoor activities were closed, among a host of other restrictions. Tourists were effectively banned for several months in 2020 because of a strict 14-day quarantine.
Ige said Hawaii is doing everything it can to make sure hospitals have enough capacity to treat patients, including setting up tents outside to treat those who aren’t seriously ill.
Another factor that blunts the need for a lockdown, he said: vaccination rates. Vaccines were not available when the economy shut down last year.
Ige said there is no magic number the state is looking at to determine whether another lockdown is necessary.
“At the point we feel that we don’t have any other resources to expand (health care) capacity, then certainly we will have to look at more drastic actions,” he said.
Hawaii tightened restrictions on restaurant capacity because of the surge in cases.
Are airlines canceling Hawaii flights to curtail travel?
Except for cuts in service as summer vacation season ends, which will automatically reduce tourist numbers, there is no evidence that airlines heeded the governor’s call to discourage travel to Hawaii.
Southwest Airlines advertised sale fares to Hawaii on Tuesday, including a $159 one-way deal from Phoenix, for travel from Aug. 25 through mid-December.
Southwest Airlines’ website touts cheap fares to Hawaii.
Concerns about the delta variant of the coronavirus have reduced the number of travelers. Airlines for America, the industry’s lobbying group, said its latest data shows ticket bookings have fallen since mid-July.
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‘I didn’t feel like it was responsible’: Growing number of travelers cancel trips
Can I get a refund if I cancel a Hawaii trip over the governor’s request to not visit?
It depends on the terms of your ticket, hotel or rental reservation or vacation package.
Airlines don’t owe you a refund unless they cancel your flight or you bought a refundable ticket. That’s the bad news. The good news is that most major airlines no longer charge hefty ticket change fees when you cancel or change a trip. So you will probably get a voucher or travel credit for a future trip. Read the fine print carefully, as the expiration date is often tied to the date you purchased the ticket.
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Travelers considering canceling trips to Hawaii should reach out to airlines, hotels, vacation rentals and others immediately to see if they are eligible for a refund or travel credit.
Many travelers with near-term plans to visit Hawaii said in the Facebook Maui groups this week that they are still going because they would lose a bundle of money if they didn’t. Others said they canceled trips.
Check the terms of any travel insurance, too.
Airline cancel or delay your flight? Here’s what they owe you (and how to get it)
Does Hawaii require coronavirus tests to visit even if you’re vaccinated?
Since July 8, vaccinated visitors have not had to test. Ige said Monday that reinstating the requirement has been considered but that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines say domestic travel is safe for vaccinated people, which complicates the decision.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Hawaii travel: What you need to know during COVID delta variant surge