Kauai Resort Bubble program is helping, with very few drawbacks

Coronavirus

KAUAI, Hawaii (KHON2) — Kauai’s resort bubble program hits the one month mark Friday, Feb. 5. According to one resort director, the Enhanced Movement Quarantine program, or EMQ, is helping Kauai’s economy and without any major drawbacks so far.

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EMQ allows those who have a negative pre-travel test and a qualified negative post-travel test to skip the state’s mandatory 10-day quarantine.

Timbers Kauai at Hokuala is one of eight resorts on the Garden Isle participating in the Kauai Resort Bubble program.

“Really, we’re only a month in,” The resort’s Managing Director Gary Moore said. “Considering that, our occupancy has been going up steadily. And we actually have a couple points in March where we’re 100 percent booked.”

He said it is helping Kauai’s economy, a little.

“I’ve noticed a slight increase, just in general, on the island. So is it enough? No. But does it help? Yes. We have 140 employees back at work. So, you know, that helps them,” Moore said.

Kauai Economic Development Director Nalani Brun said despite the differences in Kauai County’s approach to managing travel, occupancy on the different islands are similar.

“In the week of January 17 to 23, Kauai’s occupancy rate was at 19.7 percent, Maui at 20.1 percent and Oahu at 21.7 percent,” Brune explained.

Since the program started, Moore estimated between 150 to 200 people at the Timbers Hokuala Resort alone had been cleared, and he noted that they haven’t had any positive post-arrival tests.

Brun says more than 1,400 people graduated out of the program from all eight resorts combined since the program started in January.

Moore says keeping track of visitors was fairly simple.

“Everyone gets a tracking bracelet, a GPS tracking bracelet that they wear,” he said.

The tracking devices are linked to their phones and if anyone goes outside of the designated area, Moore said security automatically gets alerted.

“The biggest thing is customer education,” Moore explained. “They have a map. The demarcations are very clear of where you can go and where you’re going outside the line. We haven’t had any issues. We’ve had a couple people that accidentally went over the line.”

According to Moore, the only downside is his reservation team spends a lot more time on the phone with customers explaining travel requirements. And that testing is pricey for visitors, but he says it’s a small price to pay to enjoy a safe and much less crowded Kauai.

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