Canadians looking to escape the cold this winter season can now travel to the U.S. state of Hawaii without having to quarantine for two weeks once they get there, according to new protocols revealed on Thursday (Nov. 19).
Canadians can bypass Hawaii’s mandatory 14-day quarantine just as long as they show proof of a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of boarding, announced David Ige, governor of Hawaii.
"Canada and Hawaii share a close bond, and we have been overwhelmed with the calls and emails from our Canadian friends asking when they can safely come back to Hawaii," said Ige at a press conference on Thursday.
The program kicks off on Tuesday, Nov. 24, and all COVID-19 tests must be completed by an approved lab or pharmacy – a “trusted testing partner,” as Ige put it.
Ige added that if a traveller’s test results are not ready before the scheduled departure time, “the traveller must quarantine for 14 days, or the length of the stay, whichever runs shorter.”
“We’re adding this safety precaution now in response to the dramatically increasing number of COVID-19 cases in the continental United States and around the world,” Ige said.
Canadians are still legally obligated to quarantine for 14 days when they return to Canada, however, as per rules outlined in the Quarantine Act.
The exception to this rule would be for those returning through the province of Alberta, where eligible travellers can take a COVID-19 test at Calgary International Airport, or the Coutts border crossing, to reduce their quarantine time as part of a widely-publicized pilot project.
The project is a partnership between Alberta, the Canadian government, and the travel industry.
According to reports, the program has been utilized be more than 2,000 travellers since it launched earlier this month, signalling hope for Canada’s struggling travel industry.
WestJet unveils pre-flight testing
WestJet has already announced a partnership with the State of Hawaii and will begin offering pre-flight COVID-19 testing for guests travelling to the islands.
The airline will begin the program in partnership with DynaLIFE in Alberta for guests holding a WestJet-ticketed itinerary to Hawaii within 72-hours.
Details can be found here.
While the testing, which costs $150 CAD per person and is payable by the guest, is currently only available in Alberta, the testing is open to all Canadian residents.
"Safety remains our number one priority and we thank Governor Ige and the State of Hawaii for providing this opportunity for Canadians to enjoy all that the islands have to offer while safely supporting the tourism industry," said Arved von zur Muehlen, WestJet’s Chief Commercial Officer, in a statement. “…With pre-departure and arrivals testing now available through the collaborative efforts of the Governments of Canada, the Government of Alberta and the YYC Calgary International Airport, our guests have a wonderful opportunity to enjoy safe and enjoyable travel without the rigorous quarantine requirements."
Earlier this week, WestJet unveiled its December schedule, which includes twice-weekly, non-stop Dreamliner service between Calgary and Honolulu and Calgary and Maui.
Air Canada welcomes the news
Air Canada is also applauding Hawaii’s initiative.
"We have long advocated for safe and science-based strategies over blanket quarantines to enable a safe and secure resumption of air travel,” said Timothy Liu, managing director, sales planning at Air Canada, in a statement.
Additional details about Hawaii's pre-travel testing requirements for customers will be available shortly on aircanada.com, the airline said.
Air Canada's services to Hawaii from Vancouver begins on Dec. 17 with four weekly flights to Maui and three weekly flights to Honolulu. From Calgary, flights to Maui begin Dec. 18 and are planned to ramp up to multiple times a week.
All visitors intending to visit Hawaii must register prior to travel. Hawaii entrance requirements can be found here.
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