HONOLULU (KHON2) — On Jan. 3, the state health department dropped its isolation and quarantine period for people who test positive for COVID-19 or are close contact to a positive case.

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If COVID-19 positive regardless of vaccination status

  • Isolate for at least 5 days and until symptoms are gone.
  • Continue to wear a mask for five days after isolation.

If exposed to COVID-19

  1. Boosted, or fully vaccinated within past six months (or within past 2 months if J&J)
  • No need to quarantine
  • Wear a mask for ten days
  • Get tested on day five
  1. Neither boosted nor fully vaccinated
  • Quarantine for five days
  • Wear a mask for five days after quarantine
  • Get tested on day five

Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms, even mild symptoms, should stay home from work, school, and other activities. Those with symptoms who have not been tested should be tested as soon as possible.

Isolation means staying home for five days, and using a different bathroom and bedroom if possible.

“People are most contagious two days before they demonstrate symptoms and three days after, and that’s why the CDC is now changing its policy to just five days,” explained Lt. Gov. Josh Green.

“We are adopting the CDC recommendations as one part of effort our to blunt the current very rapid spread of the omicron variant. These guidelines are practical to implement, making it easier for people to do the right thing. The guidance also acknowledges the waning immunity we are seeing with time after initial vaccination,” said State Epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Kemble. “There is still much we do not know about transmission dynamics of the omicron variant. We will continue to follow the science. We should all anticipate that guidance may continue to evolve in the coming weeks as we learn more.”

“The new policies underscore the benefits of booster shots. People who are boosted and do not have symptoms will not need to quarantine after exposure to someone who is COVID positive,” said Health Director Dr. Elizabeth Char, FACEP. “Mask wearing is a key part of the updated guidance. We know how important masks are in reducing the spread of COVID-19.”

If you’ve been exposed to COVID and spent more than 15 minutes within six feet of someone who is COVID positive, people fully vaccinated in the last six months or have the booster do not need to quarantine if they do not have symptoms. If you’re unvaccinated or received your second dose more than six months ago, you should stay at home, wear a mask around the house, and monitor your symptoms for five days.

“And if you do develop an infection, then you’re no longer in quarantine, you go into isolation,” explained Hawaii Pacific Health VP of Affairs, Dr. Douglas Kwock.

“Your isolation starts when you either test positive or when you start developing symptoms,” he said.

If you were infected in the last 90 days and come into close contact with a positive case, Dr. Kwock said the person does not need to quarantine if they do not have symptoms, “even if you have not been fully vaccinated or boosted.”

“If you’re still symptomatic, you don’t get cleared,” said Green. “I should also note that even after five days, if you’re asymptomatic, and you get released, you’re still expected to wear a mask for the next five days, no matter where you are.”

Get more coronavirus news: COVID vaccines, boosters and Safe Travels information

The state’s Safe Travels mandatory quarantine for unvaccinated and untested travelers has also dropped to five days. Travelers currently in quarantine can be released from quarantine once they hit that five days.