As in so many states, Hawaii's rate of Covid-19 infection is going in the wrong direction right now.
That's why Governor David Ige has asked would-be visitors to stay home. "I encourage everyone to restrict and curtail travel to Hawaii," he said in a news conference last month.
The state has not officially closed its doors to visitors—the governor was making a request, not issuing a ban. But he did warn that tourists this fall "will not have the typical kind of holiday that they expect to get when they visit."
That's for sure. In recent days, government officials as well as private companies have announced a slew of new rules and mandates that will affect a Hawaii vacation this autumn.
Here's how things break down.
New Rules on Oahu
Starting Monday, September 13, residents and visitors alike will be expected to show proof of vaccine or negative test results to enter many indoor spaces on the island, including restaurants, bars, movie theaters, museums, and gyms.
Fully vaccinated means at least two weeks have passed since your last required injection. Photographs of vaccine cards are acceptable proof, as are digital records such as the state's SMART Health Card. Of course, you can also flash your paper card from the CDC.
Those going the testing route must have results from within the last 48 hours.
Introduced as part of a program called Safe Access Oahu, the new rules come on top of other restrictions limiting capacity to 50% at restaurants and bars, where masks must be worn at all times when patrons aren't eating or drinking. Mingling is forbidden.
Capacity limits at restaurants make it more important than ever to reserve a table well in advance.
In addition, social gatherings must be limited to 10 people indoors, and 25 outdoors—a measure that will affect Hawaii's wedding industry.
Note that these restrictions do not apply to outdoor dining. You can dine outside at a restaurant without showing proof of vaccine or test results.
Not long after Oahu announced its new rules, the county of Maui, which includes that island plus neighboring Lanai and Molokai, established restrictions of its own.
Effective September 15 (and expected to last 30 days), the rules state that only fully vaccinated patrons may take part in indoor dining at bars and restaurants. The unvaccinated will have to dine outdoors—there's no exception in Maui for customers with negative test results.
Bars and restaurants are required to close by 10pm. As on Oahu, masks must be worn indoors.
Maui is limiting social gatherings to just 5 people indoors, 10 outside. Tour companies will operate at 50% capacity.
Vaccine Requirement at Hawaii Hotels
It's not just the government imposing mandates on visitors. The large Highgate hotels group is also requiring guests to be vaccinated.
"Everyone working for Highgate in Hawaii will be vaccinated, and that starts our journey on becoming the safe place to come and stay," Highgate exec Kelly Sanders told reporters this week. "But we can't ask all employees to be vaccinated if we don't also ask guests and patrons to live up to the same standard we're setting for our people."
Starting October 15, checking in will involve a front desk employee checking out your vaccination record at the Alohilani Resort Waikiki Beach, Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel, Park Shore Waikiki, Ambassador Waikiki Hotel, Pearl Waikiki Hotel, Hilton Garden Inn Waikiki Beach, and Courtyard by Marriott Waikiki.