For one California family, vacation ended just six hours after it started. After Hawaiian health officials misread their negative COVID-19 test and demanded they quarantine, the family flew back home. Turns out, though, that health officials just misread the test. By the time Hawaii said “oops” the family was already home. It is a reminder to (gently) push back when you encounter what you know to be an obvious error.
Hawaii Ruins Family Vacation
The Adele family, from the San Diego area, dutifully procured COVID-19 tests ahead of their trip to Hawaii. The State of Hawaii only accepts tests from approved testing providers. One such approved testing provider is the drug store chain CVS. The Adeles visited a local CVS and obtained the test, as required.
But upon landing in Hawaii, health officials did not accept their results and ordered them to quarantine in their hotel room for 14 days. It isn’t clear if they pushed back.
To make matters worse, the resort staff warned them:
“If we see you out at all we’re going to call the Hawaiian Police Department and you will go to jail.”
That is, unless they checked out and flew home…which they decided to after encountering such hostility.
Christina Adele noted,
“I didn’t pack much of anything for my son. I had some diapers and some things but I was thinking I was going to buy all that stuff in Hawaii.”
Unable to handle quarantine, the family moved up their return flight, checked out of the resort, and flew home.
The next morning, however, Adele received an email from Hawaiian health officials:
“Aloha, your COVID test has been read and you have been released from quarantine.”
Reminder: Push Back
One thing I’ve come to learn in my travels over the years is that rules are bendable and that while correction can backfire, sometimes you simply must pushback.
It’s always best to be polite. Start there at least. But don’t just roll over and accept what in this case appears to be stupidity. I’m going to (reasonably) assume that the test presented upon arrival was simply misread. Asking for another set of eyes to take a look at the test may have solved the problem on the spot. Insisting that the test was taken less than 72 hours prior to travel, if true, should have been an effective strategy.
I get that the medical infrastructure in Hawaii is generally more limited than on the Mainland. Furthermore, I understand that there’s no point in having tourist money if you are dead. Those who live in Hawaii have a reasonable right to protect themselves. But there’s this idea of hana ikaika a wī paha, the notion that you work or starve. How can many Hawaiian residents work when their livelihood is cut off through onerous restrictions that are not even competently enforced? For the life of me, I do not understand the idea that Hawaiians can (or even have the right to) live as an autarkic entity.