Surviving Hawaii's 14-Day Mandatory Quarantine - Honolulu Civil Beat

About the Author

Allison Chang

Allison Chang is a seventh-generation local who now resides in the Bay Area. She is the ethics and compliance lawyer for a technology company.

We made our plans to travel to Honolulu for the summer months ago, having no clue that the spring of 2020 would be filled with turmoil. We hoped the quarantine would lift by the time we left, but instead it was extended.


Undaunted, we thought a 14-day quarantine would be easy as we had been sheltering-in-place since March 10.

We are now on day 13 of our mandatory quarantine at my 97-year-old grandmother’s (Popo’s) house (who is temporarily staying at my mom’s house), and we’ve already trimmed four trees, cut the grass, planted a garden, cleaned the house, set up a surveillance system, done the 7-minute exercise routine every night, practiced online yoga, read books, completed puzzles and a variety of other activities.

To survive a Hawaii quarantine, cans of Spam can help. But not much. Denby Fawcett/Civil Beat

My husband and I are also still working from home on pacific time so we are up at 5 a.m., on Zooms all day, and exhausted by 10 p.m.

Lessons Learned

So what have we learned during our quarantine? So many things:

  1. The day you arrive does not count in the 14 days. What!
  2. The state’s process is not seamless. We completed the state’s on-line registry the day before we arrived in order to avoid filling out the paper form and standing in line at the airport upon arrival. We still had to complete the paper form and stand in several lines (not social distancing) at the airport despite having the on-line confirmation that we had registered.
  3. We have diligently checked in every day online, but I’m convinced that it must be a spotty process because how would someone know to check in if they only filled out the paper form.
  4. It would be impossible for us to quarantine for 14 days in a single hotel room. Even for the couchiest potato, the quarantine would be extremely tough. Although we are fortunate to be in a house where we can go outside, we can’t leave the property, not even to walk a dog. And then there’s the added factor of having enough space for everyone to do their own things, including two home offices.
  5. We can’t pick up food or go to the store to buy groceries. But for Instacart and the kindness of family and friends, we’d be eating only rice and Spam and the granola bars we brought with us.
  6. Hawaii birds are really loud at 5 a.m. and transmit clearly on Zoom.
  7. It’s tempting to do a quick run out to the store, but we’re rule-followers. As an added measure of deterrence, we don’t know who’s watching and who could turn us in!
  8. Quarantining is fairly expensive. Besides ordering delivery and paying for the Instacart premium for groceries, we also had to upgrade the internet connection to handle two video conferences and two kids gaming at the same time, and we had to buy a new wireless router to handle all of that bandwidth. Thankfully our lodging is paid for with free labor for Popo.
  9. You can get sunburn by doing yard work at 3 p.m.
  10. When friends and family hear that you’re in town, it’s hard to keep them away as required by the quarantine no-visitor policy. We’ve had so many kind souls drop off “emergency” items; our favorite being malasadas and poke and the most important being a new router when the one we brought died.
  11. It’s not that bad. I’ve taught my 8-year-old “Heart and Soul” on the piano, my husband has worked with my 13-year-old on building his own website, and overall my kids are enjoying doing basically whatever interests them. We have it easy and we are fortunate, so no complaints from us.

Given the fraught history of foreigners and diseases and native populations, we agree with the reasoning behind the quarantine. And rather than completely locking down the state, it seems like a measured (and successful!) way to protect Hawaii from becoming a COVID-19 hotspot.

If we had to do this again we would postpone visiting during the quarantine. Having a place to stay that is bigger than a 300-sq. ft. hotel room, friends and family who kindly drop off food, a great internet connection, and a boatload of activities has made passing the time easier.

The day you arrive does not count in the 14 days.

We still can’t wait for our quarantine to end. Even though we will still have to socially distance, we can at least go for walks and buy our own groceries.

In the meantime, we’ll keep our California cooties out of circulation. If any family and friends read this in the next two days, we’d appreciate some Korean fried chicken.

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About the Author

Allison Chang

Allison Chang is a seventh-generation local who now resides in the Bay Area. She is the ethics and compliance lawyer for a technology company.

Latest Comments (0)

Your family is so blessed to have the opportunity to stay at your 97 year old grammys/ great grammys house. Work in the yard, quality family time, PRICELESS. The Quarantine made this family bonding possible😍

Quigman26 · 2 years ago

Thank you for being a rule-follower.  Unfortunately, I think you're in the minority...

hapa_boy · 2 years ago

Just know how much your honesty and vigilance is appreciated by those of us who call this beautiful state home.   You are exactly the kind of visitor we want in our state verses the family of 20 who pile into a vacation rental and think of every way imaginable to skirt the laws.   Mahalo to you and your family.  

doaloha · 2 years ago

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