Last Updated on November 20, 2020.
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 19, 2020 Global News “Hawaii opens pre-travel COVID-19 testing program to Canadians“). It has been a long wait but yes Canadians, we do have an approved testing partner in Calgary!
“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.”
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 negative test within 24 hours of departure before boarding a flight to Hawaii
At this time, it is unknown how long it will take to process the test results in Calgary. Hopefully it is a rapid test that takes 15 minutes but some tests take up to 2 days to process. We will be monitoring the information shared about this in the coming weeks.
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.
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 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 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 one testing partner in Canada so far but we do anticipate Air Canada will announce a testing partner for flights out of YVR – Vancouver sooner than later to compete with West Jet.
We also believe that until quarantine requirements for Canadians upon are 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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