Hawaii open? Technically yes, but don't expect much

"We were just desperate to go anywhere and do something and had no idea that once we got here that nothing would be open."


Hawaii is a popular spot this time of year. The state is open to visitors if they get tested for COVID-19 and follow additional steps before the trip.

Richard Harner and his family left West Sacramento and took a trip to Hawaii, but they were shocked when they got there — because many places were closed.

"Basically, the reason we decided to come was because they said Hawaii was open, but it's really not," said Harner. "Everything's got a sign on the door, temporarily closed or just closed completely."

Harner and his family were ready to get away. When they heard on the news Hawaii was letting visitors back, he thought, "Let's go!"

Oahu Closed Businesses
Richard Harner
Businesses are closed near the Waikiki Beach on Oahu. 

"We were just desperate to go anywhere and do something and had no idea that once we got here that nothing would be open," Harner said.

Harner shared photos of shuttered windows, dirty sidewalks and empty streets. He said a lot of businesses in Waikiki Beach are closed.

Oahu Quiet Streets
Richard Harner
Richard Harner captures the quiet streets of Oahu during recent trip.

"There used to be those little shacks that rented out surfboards or did surfboard lessons. All those are locked up and all of their stuff is chained up," Harner said. "It looks like it hasn't been open in months."

Harner said Hawaii has a strict mask mandate when in public and that all businesses and restaurants take your information for contact tracing.

"Everybody takes contact tracing information even then. You write your name, your phone number, where you are staying," Harner said. "I don't think they are doing that in Sacramento."

Hawaii officials have a step-by-step plan if you want to visit the Aloha State. Once you booked your flight, you need to go to Travel.Hawaii.Gov and register for the Safe Travels Online Program.

When you are 72 hours from your flight, you must take an FDA Authorized Nucleic Acid Amplification Test (NAAT) from a certified lab. If you receive a negative result, upload it to your Safe Travels Account.

Travelers 24 hours before a flight with negative results or results that are still pending need to log into their Safe Travels Account and fill out a travel health questionnaire. You will receive a QR code upon completion.

Once you arrive to Hawaii, you will scan your QR code at the airport. If your negative test results are verified, you can enjoy your trip to Hawaii. If the test comes back positive, you must immediately quarantine for 14 days.

"I would advise people to definitely call ahead, do your due diligence, find out what's actually open if you want to do things here [and] ... what is the capacity and make reservations before you come," Harner said.