One of my first jobs in the entertainment industry involved working for a prolific movie producer who was legendary for two traits. One was his knack for finding great projects.
The other was his famously hot temper. Of the many orders screamed at me, this one stuck — and is a good lesson for many situations, in general.
“Never ‘assume’! Don’t ‘assume’ anything! Find the answer, so you don’t [mess] up anything else!”
(The in-person version is much more colorful. And terrifying.) My sin? I assumed that actor X was had received a script we sent his agent. I didn’t know for sure.
Well, someone assumed their “reputable pharmacy’s” COVID-19 test would allow them to bypass Hawaii’s 10-day quarantine.
Some background: folks must receive a negative COVID-19 test from a “trusted testing partner” not more than 72 hours before their departing flight to Hawaii.
In her post, “You Might Think It Sounds Nice to Go to Hawaii. We Tried, and It Was a Disaster,” Slate’s Anna Rao writes that she and her husband planned a Kona getaway last month. Their daughters scheduled a “Work from Hawaii” trip and the couple decided to meet them there.
“The logistics of booking a flight, reserving a townhouse, and getting a fast-turnaround COVID-19 test just prior to travel, proved to be not-too-difficult,” she said in the piece.
It sounds like Ms. Rao and her husband live somewhere in the eastern United States. So they flew from the Washington, D.C., area to San Francisco, where they hopped a connecting flight to Kona.
But before they boarded their flight to the Aloha State, she “noticed long lines and a sign that said, ‘Pre-Screening for Hawaii Travelers.’ We had already uploaded the results of our test and a Hawaii Health Form to the Safe Travels Hawaii website—but just in case, I asked the flight attendant at our gate whether we needed to do anything more. He shrugged and told me that the screening was for other flights and ours would be in Kona.”
Once they landed in Kona, though, they were in for a rude surprise.
I had been sure our $200 per person COVID -19 test results from a reputable pharmacy would be accepted, mostly because I hadn’t found another option to meet Hawaii’s testing requirements. The state required that we get tested at a maximum of 72 hours prior to boarding and have the result ready to show upon arrival. Though the Safe Travels Hawaii program has a long list of approved partners for COVID-19 tests, they were mostly located on the West Coast, or else did not offer the kind of quick-turnaround test that was required.
A screening agent gave them two choices: quarantine for 10 days in a hotel room or head back to the mainland. (The couple couldn’t even stay at the Airbnb they booked.) They opted for the latter and returned home (to a snowstorm, of course).
I know some colleagues and family members who have visited or are planning trips to Hawaii. And they are based in the middle or eastern United States. Finding a quick turnaround COVID-19 test wasn’t as easy as they hoped. All opted for extended layovers in Los Angeles so they could get tested onsite at LAX — where there’s a trusted testing partner.
All of us know plenty can go wrong when we travel. Assuming something will work isn’t necessarily the best option. In this case, Ms. Rao’s assumption that her COVID-19 test would pass muster was a no-no. (But she was able to write about it, so she has that going for her. 🙂 ) I think it was an honest mistake — but one that could’ve been prevented. Getting a test from somewhere on the West Coast might’ve cost a little extra time and money. But it would’ve been worth it.
At least, I assume. 😉
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