Last Updated on January 8, 2021.
On October 15, the Hawaiian Islands began allowing out of state travelers without a 14 day quarantine with the launch of the Safe Travels Multi-Tier Program. Since then, thousands of people have been returning to Hawaii for a number of reason, including tourism.
Despite what Canadians may have read online on popular and reputable news sources like our government funded CBC, Canadians cannot travel easily to Hawaii due to the pre-travel testing component.
“Hawaiʻi’s pre-travel testing program requires passengers five and older to take a Nucleic Acid Amplification Test (NAAT) from a Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) certified laboratory within 72 hours from the final leg of departure and produce a negative result in order to avoid the state’s 14-day mandatory quarantine. A trained professional must observe all tests. Only test results from trusted testing partners approved by the Hawaiʻi Department of Health will be accepted.”
The State of Hawaii has approved testing partners for Japanese visitors to avoid the 14 day quarantine and most recently for Canadian visitors. As of November 27, testing partners have been approved in Alberta, British Columbia, and Ontario (more details to follow). West Jet and Air Canada have an agreement in Alberta with DYNALIFE laboratories and Air Canada has an agreement with Shoppers Drug Mart in Alberta, British Columbia, and Ontario in time for holiday season travel.
“The new testing program is being implemented in partnership with both WestJet and Air Canada, with WestJet saying on its website the fee-based tests will be done by DynaLIFE laboratories. The tests will cost $150 and are only available in Alberta, but are open to all Canadians, WestJet said. The DynaLIFE tests are administered at participating pharmacies, according to the airline.”
“Beginning December 7th, private COVID-19 testing will be available at select Shoppers Drug Mart locations in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia for asymptomatic individuals who require a negative COVID-19 test within 24-48 hours in preparation for an upcoming international flight.”
If a Canadian needs/wants to travel to Hawaii, they would need to:
- Fly to Calgary in Alberta or to the United States up to 72 hours prior to arrival to Hawaii
- Obtain a test up to 24 hours prior to departure in Alberta, British Columbia, or Ontario at a Shopper’s Drug Mart (details to follow).
- Obtain a negative test within 24 hours of departure before boarding a flight to Hawaii
According to DynaLIFE’s website as linked through West Jet’s: “Results are typically ready (but not guaranteed) within 24 hours of a collection” and testing done at an approved pharmacy. This means you cannot get tested and receive the results during a connection at the airport, unfortunately. Hopefully a rapid test that takes 15 minutes is implemented but in the meantime, book your flights and layover cautiously.
If Canadians are willing to get tested during a connection/layover in the United States, rapid tests be obtained within 15 minutes at select airports. For example, a rapid test is available through United Airlines at SFO – San Francisco Airport within 15 minutes at the cost of $250 per test and through American Airlines at DFW – Dallas-Fort Worth Airport. We do recommend that if you plan to follow this route, you allocate a long buffer in case your flight is delayed. If you do test positive, you will also want to look at what you will need to do. Rapid testing is a good option but somewhat risky.
It is not impossible for a Canadian to visit Hawaii right now but not as easy as the media says it is. The media also often neglects to tell Canadians they need to quarantine for 14 days upon return to Canada, unless you live in Alberta where a testing on arrival pilot program is being introduced. Effective November 2nd, those who do not want to quarantine for 14 days can get tested on arrival and leave their place of quarantine if the test is negative and they agree to a 2nd test on day 6 or 7. In addition, as of January 7, Transport Canada is requiring all passengers arriving internationally to provide proof of a negative PCR test obtained 72 hours prior to departure.
As much as we want to visit again, we are not sure if now or the immediate future is a good time. Even with a negative test, 3,700 travelers were told their results would need to be manually reviewed and needed to quarantine for up to 4 days.
The island of Kauai has also received permission from Governor Ige to opt-out of the pre-arrival testing program effective December 2, 2020 and re-institute the 14 day quarantine. Since vacation rentals are not approved places to quarantine, non-essential travel to Kauai is more or less prohibited.
The Hawaiian people and residents also had a rough time during the lockdown; they were not even allowed to go use the beach at times. Some places are even asking tourists not to visit and so it might not be the Hawaii you remember and we feel it is important to give Hawaii time to recuperate as well and to practice safe and respectful travel.
Also, the Government of Canada advises against non-essential travel with the following travel advisory: “Avoid non-essential travel outside Canada until further notice” . Anyone considering traveling to Hawaii should review the information. It can also be costly and difficult to obtain a PCR test and so do your research.
It is not impossible for Canadians to visit Hawaii but not an easy for option for the average leisure traveler who wants to go visit for a vacation right now or even check on their property there.
The State of Hawaii has only approved two testing partners in 3 provinces in Canada so far . We will be following this development and updating the post as soon as information is available.
We also believe that until quarantine and PCR test requirements for Canadians on return are relaxed, Canadian airlines will also not offer as many flights as what travelers have been used to in the past. This post will be updated as more information becomes available.
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