Thousands of Canadians took a trip to Hawaii over the holiday season despite urgings by both provincial and federal governments to avoid all non-essential travel.
Data provided by the US state’s COVID-19 online portal reveals that 3,491 travellers from Canadian airports arrived in Hawaii between December 15 and January 7.
Of those, 2,217 departed from Calgary International Airport (YYC) and 1,274 from Vancouver International Airport (YVR) on WestJet and Air Canada flights.
The vast majority — 3,616 — provided the reason for their trip as “Pleasure/Vacation.”
Only 57 people identified themselves as Hawaii residents, while 98.4% identified as visitors to the Hawaiian Islands.
A total of 19 people are currently in quarantine, according to the state’s figures, with 3,563 being exempt because of having a negative COVID test.
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In November 2020, Hawaii agreed to provide Canadians with an exemption from its mandatory 14-day quarantine on the island, provided they receive a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of departure.
If the results are unavailable before boarding the final leg of the trip, the passenger must quarantine for 14 days or the length of the stay, whichever is shorter.
Both of Canada’s major air carriers resumed multiple direct flight routes in December to Maui and Honolulu from Vancouver International Airport and Calgary International Airport.
However, all travellers returning from Hawaii to Canada must quarantine for 14 days, starting on the day of their arrival at a Canadian airport.
The topic of Canadians taking international trips over the holidays has been a contentious issue, with politicians and public figures stepping down and issuing apologies for leaving their provinces.
On Thursday, the head of UBC’s School of Public Health admitted to vacationing in Hawaii over the holidays, a decision he now says he regrets.
Earlier this week Justin Trudeau expressed his dismay in politicians — including two members of the Liberal caucus — who travelled outside of the country during the holiday break amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
During a press conference on Tuesday, Trudeau made it clear that “no one should be vacationing abroad right now.”
“So many people gave up so much more than a vacation over the holidays. There’s a reason so many Canadians made those tough but responsible decisions. There’s a reason so many Canadians did their part.”
The list of Canadian politicians who travelled outside of Canada in the past few weeks has grown to include two Liberal Party caucus members, who said they left the country for family-related matters.
Canadians who are quarantining after returning from non-essential holidays abroad will not be eligible for the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB).
More information on the State of Hawaii’s COVID-19 travel safety requirements can be found online, including mandatory registration for all individuals prior to travel.
With files from Kenneth Chan