Hawaii COVID Updates: Weʻre Back (Again)

safe travels Hawaii Covid update

So it looks like weʻre still doing this. Like the rest of humanity, weʻre ready to never hear the terms “Hawaii Covid Update” again. But the Safe Travels Hawaii website has new requirements to travel to the islands. Oahu has a new Mayor, a new Tier System, and essentially a vaccine mandate. Both of which we will share below. We restarted business and eventually had to pause again, twice. So much has happened since Part 3: Whatʻs Open on Oahu? when we announced the first restart of Your Private Tours of Oahu, we figured it needed another chapter. Along with our Covid Information Page, they should provide more information about what to expect.

Consider this as extra innings for the Weʻre Back posts. Part 1: Hawaii Travel Update covered what the pandemic was like on Oahu through October 2020. Since Hawaii went a much different route than much of the US, we wanted to provide context. So in Part 2: Hawaii Pandemic History, we shared some historical insight to help give you some background info. So, with all that said and hopefully for the very last time, welcome to Weʻre Back (Again). Eighteen months, four blog posts, three pauses, two restarts, and a partridge in a pear tree later.

Kualoa Ranch during Hawaii Covid Pandemic

“Hahai no ka ua i ka ululā’au.”

Rain always follows the forest. – Pukui

Picking up where we left off

If you read Whatʻs Open on Oahu?: Weʻre Back – Part 3, you may remember we announced we were resuming operations. Well, November 2020 was a long time ago, and a lot has happened since then. Even though Hawaii introduced its testing program to avoid a 14-day quarantine, we still had other work to do. So we decided to finish our work with Healthy Mothers & Healthy Babies delivering free food to new families under DeliverWE. After the program ended in December, we attempted to resume service. It wasnʻt horrible, but it wasnʻt great either.

While the island had moved out of Tier 1, the restrictions were still pretty heavy. The mask mandate still included outdoor areas. People couldnʻt comfortably have weddings, or worse, bury their loved ones. We also had to say no, a lot. Not to mention the health risks for everyone involved. So we made the difficult decision to close down again until most vulnerable people had the opportunity to be vaccinated. Before the current vaccination mandates, of course. To understand why we did all this, you may want to start from the beginning at Part 1. If not, at least Part 2 for a little historical context.

safe travels Hawaii private tours

What hasnʻt changed

  • Safe Travels Hawaii: Negative Test or Vaccination
  • Positive Tests: Know the backup plans
  • Mask Wearing: Still mandated indoors
  • Local Requirements: Vary island by island
  • Check in Advance: Whatʻs open/closed
  • Be Flexible: For short notice changes
  • Shop Local: Small local businesses
  • Be Respectful: Hawaii is a humble place
  • Thankful: Weʻre still alive and in business!

Spring rains and summer floods

The expression “when it rains, it pours” is appropriate for March through August 2021. We were extra careful with all the new procedures and the possibility of further restrictions at any minute. Pearl Harbor paused the walk-up tickets we have always used. Which meant we had to adjust availability accordingly. Capacity restrictions made things feel even busier than they were. Location and activity closures piled tour busses on top of each other. With nowhere else to go, Americans flocked to Hawaii. All of that said, we sold out until September.

Private Tours and Safe Travels Hawaii

Even though there was some rust, it was great to back. After all, we were closed for basically a year. There were so many people around the island we missed dearly. Even a few guests returned from before the end of the world that we got to see again. It was incredible and much needed. This is seriously the best job ever.

We get to explore and enjoy one of the most beautiful places on the planet for a living. Waimea Valley is always a breath of fresh air. One of the many places and crews we missed was definitely Pearl Harbor. Even just the different rains and winds around the island. While we enjoyed every minute, storms just beyond the horizon often give signs with hints about their arrival.

Current Hawaii Covid Updates

Pretty early on, you could tell it was going to be busy. After having the islands to ourselves for the better part of a year, it was relatively easy to see it would be a tough transition back. Not to mention, a pretty rough ʻMondayʻ for everyone. The newer Companies resumed operations first because they had to. There are many regulations and even more unwritten rules in this industry. Some of which changed during the shutdown. Many of the senior tour drivers had also retired during the pandemic. By the end of summer, the factors we have talked about in the Weʻre Back Series had boiled over. These are some of the reasons why we made the early decision to pause beach activities until Summer 2022.

safe travels Hawaii tours

Not only that, but unfortunately, our Hawaii Covid cases spiked. As a result, hospitals quickly became overwhelmed. What was originally a vaccine exemption from the Safe Travels Hawaii quarantine and testing is looking more like a vaccination mandate.

The Hawaii Covid Emergency Proclamations had to be updated on a State and County level to try and stem the tide. The indoor mask rules never went away. Many attractions had to widen some areas they are required again, including attractions like Pearl Harbor.

Negative test or vaccination mandate

Back in July 2021, the Safe Travels Hawaii program added a vaccine exemption to the quarantine procedures. With the rise in Hawaii Covid cases, it morphed into more or less a vaccination mandate within a couple of months. As we mentioned above, restrictions were reinforced and are posted below. You can also follow along via the City and County website because they tend to change quickly.

Hawaii emergency updated order
Updated Covid status orders for the island of Oahu, Hawaii.

Itʻs important to know, weʻre not advocating for or against any of this, simply providing a little more information. Hopefully, if nothing else, this will give you a better idea of what to expect if you travel anytime soon. Governor Ige asked for residents and visitors to pause all nonessential travel until at least November 2021. In addition, there have been vaccination mandates implemented for High School sports, City and State Workers, and more. There was also a 60-day vaccine passport announced, starting September 13th. To go to a place like Bishop Museum, restaurant, movie theater, and more, you must be vaccinated or have proof of a negative test within 48 hours. While this stuff changes pretty quickly, and often without warning, hereʻs basically where weʻre at:

Oahu Hawaii Covid Recovery Tiers

Hawaii Covid Plan for November 2021 and beyond

For all of these reasons, it started to feel a lot like it did in December 2020, which is why, once again, we closed all operations for nearly three weeks. In addition, there are no new reservations available until the middle of November 2021. We have reached out to our guests and immediately refunded or rescheduled anybody who chose those options. Honestly, after this summer, pretty much everyone needed a break. That is also probably true for you. Plus, when Part 3 was published, we needed to do some website updates, as you can tell. However, we were hoping not to have to shut down again.

Fortunately, we knew it was a possibility and prepared accordingly. Not everyone was able to do this, and thatʻs understandable too, especially for those with employees depending on them. But we are not all the way shut down. We have some guests ready for the vaccination mandate and are still looking forward to exploring Oahu during late September and October 2021. Then it should be (almost) full steam ahead by the holidays. We are very excited to accommodate them responsibly.

Essentially, all Covid Regulations have been extended for Your Private Tours of Oahu until at least May 2022. While things will probably change again, hereʻs what they look like for the foreseeable future:

Oahu Private Tours Guide

What to expect on tour

  • Safe Travels Hawaii: Negative Test or Vaccination
  • Employee Tests: Weekly, regardless of status
  • Mask Wearing: Still mandated indoors
  • Check in Advance: Whatʻs open/closed
  • Be Flexible: For short notice changes
  • Shop Local: Small local businesses
  • Be Respectful: Hawaii is a humble place
  • Thankful: Weʻre still alive and in business!
  • Good Fun: We still have a blast on tour

We are looking forward to many more years sharing all the great things Oahu has to do. Until then, make sure to follow us on social media for more up-to-date information.

As always, take care of each other. Please stay safe, and we look forward to showing you around Oahu sometime in the (relatively) near future. Thank you for taking the time to read this, and make sure to subscribe below.

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2 thoughts on “Hawaii COVID Updates: Weʻre Back (Again)

  1. Nice Mike!! Very easy to read and enjoyable too. Aloha Always! I can’t wait to see what you’re gonna come up with for the angels 🤍
    Tours is what I do and this website makes me want to ride with you lol tooo good

    1. Thank you so much Brie! You are awesome and thank you so much for taking the time to check this out. Glad you like the website and the article. Canʻt wait to see you on the road again.

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