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Kauai Drops Out of Hawaii's Testing Program, Will Force Quarantine | Frommer's Maridav/ Shutterstock

Kauai Drops Out of Hawaii's Testing Program, Will Force Quarantine

Hawaii, you may have heard, has been working to salvage its tourism-dependent economy. In October, the state began the new Safe Travels system that allows visitors to skip the previously required two-week quarantine period by arriving with a negative Covid-19 test in hand.

Kauai, one of the most beautiful Hawaiian islands—and, it must be said, one of the most exclusive—has suddenly decided to opt out of the Safe Travels scheme.

As of December 2, Kauai will revert to requiring all arriving visitors to undergo a carefully enforced quarantine for two weeks before beginning their vacations.

Because few tourists can spare two weeks of isolation time, Kauai is essentially backing out of accepting tourists altogether.

Why? Because Kauai is a place with limited resources, and its margin for error is perilously thin. The mainland United States has allowed Covid-19 infection rates to soar, and a similar outbreak would be particularly lethal on an isolated island like Kauai.

"The unprecedented surge of COVID-19 cases on the mainland and the rise in community spread on Kauai are of significant concern for the Garden Isle. We must protect Kauai residents and visitors and ensure that Kauai’s hospitals do not become overwhelmed," Gov. David Ige said in a statement announcing the shift. "Kauai County currently has the fewest number of ICU beds in the state, and private providers are seeking ways to increase capacity. This moratorium aims to stabilize the situation on Kauai."

The new quarantine mandate will be in effect for the foreseeable future—at least until the rest of the United States can get the virus under more control.

The rest of the state of Hawaii is still allowing visitors to opt out of isolation by presenting a negative, FDA-authorized Nucleic Acid Amplification Test (NAAT) from a certified CLIA lab. The test must be no older than 72 hours and must be provided for inspection before departing the continental U.S.

If you had active reservations for a trip to Kauai, you now have three options. You can cancel your trip, you can switch your Hawaiian visit to a different island where negative virus tests still serve as a ticket out of quarantine, or you can agree to isolate in place for 14 days as soon as you arrive—and yes, Hawaii is policing for scofflaws, so don't expect to leave your room.

Click here for the Hawaii Tourism Authority's current explanation of entry requirements.

Pictured above: Kalalau Trail, Kauai