The Hawaii Department of Health today announced cutting in half the state’s COVID-19 isolation and quarantine time requirements in the new year to reflect the recent recommendation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Health Director Dr. Elizabeth Char said in a statement that mask wearing is a key part of the updated guidance, which also shortens the isolation requirement from 10 to five days. The CDC’s decision was prompted by a recent surge in COVID-19 cases, particularly the omicron variant.
“We know how important masks are in reducing the spread of COVID-19,” Char said in a statement.
Under the revised policy:
>> Individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 regardless of vaccination status: Must isolate for at least 5 days and remain in isolation until the symptoms are gone. Individuals must also continue to wear a mask for five days after isolation, according to a news release.
>> Individuals exposed to COVID-19 who have been vaccinated: Those who have been boosted on top of their full vaccination status within the past six months or within the past two months if they received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, do not need to quarantine but must wear a mask for 10 days and get tested on the fifth day, state health officials said.
>> Individuals exposed to COVID-19 who have not been vaccinated: Must quarantine for five days, wear a mask for five days after quarantine and get tested on the fifth day, according to a news release.
“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 in a news release. “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 revised policies go into effect Jan. 3 for all those who have been instructed to isolate and quarantine. State health officials said it will take some time to update the guidelines in both print and online. Officials did not give a timeline.
Meanwhile, Gov. David Ige did not announce any changes today to the Safe Travels Hawaii program, which requires domestic travelers to self-quarantine for 10 days. Travelers to Hawaii who have been fully vaccinated or provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test result are exempt from the state’s mandatory self-quarantine requirement.