This week, the State of Hawai`i instituted some of the most sweeping emergency orders in the country in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. For tourists, tourism, federal employees, federal contractors, and the millions of island residents, this means a very different kind of stay while in paradise.

14-Day Self-Quarantine Order Goes Into Effect at 12:01 a.m. on Thursday, March 26, 2020

On March 21, Governor David Y. Ige ordered a mandatory 14-day quarantine for all individuals arriving in or returning to the State of Hawai`i. The mandate — the first such action in the nation — applies to all arrivals at state airports from the continental U.S. and international destinations and extends to both visitors and state residents.  Visitors are responsible for the costs of their own quarantine.

The mandatory 14-day self-quarantine orders are to:

  • Proceed directly from the airport to your designated quarantine location. If you are a resident, your designated quarantine location is your place of residence.  If you are a visitor, your designated quarantine location is your hotel room.
  • Remain in your designated quarantine location for a period of 14 days or the duration of your stay in the State of Hawai`i, whichever is shorter.
  • You can leave your designated quarantine location only for medical emergencies or to seek medical care.
  • You cannot visit any public spaces, including but not limited to pools, meeting rooms, fitness centers, and restaurants.

Failure to follow these requirements is a misdemeanor and is punishable by a maximum fine of $5,000 or imprisonment of not more than one year, or both.  Enforcement will be handled by each of Hawai`i’s five counties, as appropriate.

Stay-at-Home Orders

Effective March 23, 2020, the islands of O`ahu and Maui have issued emergency orders requiring all citizens to shelter-in-place—meaning to stay at home and/or work from home, except for other essential activities.  These orders are in place through April 30.  In addition to the limited exceptions of “Essential Activities” of seeking medical services, obtaining supplies, or caring for family members in other households, there are also broader exceptions relating to those working in or providing services for “Healthcare Operations, “Essential Government Functions,” “Essential Infrastructure,” or Essential Businesses.”  Permissible activities include the following:

  • Individuals may leave home to provide services or work at a “Healthcare Operation,” which broadly includes hospitals, clinics, pharmacies, biotechnology companies, healthcare suppliers, and related or ancillary organizations.
  • Individuals may leave home to provide services or work necessary to maintain and operate “Essential Infrastructure,” which broadly includes public works construction, housing construction; airports; water, sewer, electrical, and gas operations; solid waste collection; and internet and telecommunications providers, consistent with DHS’s CISA Memorandum dated March 19, 2020.
  • Individuals may leave home to provide services or work necessary to maintain and operate “Essential Government Functions,” such as emergency management personnel, emergency dispatchers, law enforcement, first responders, jail/prison personnel, and those necessary to maintain continuity of government agency operations.
  • Individuals may also leave home to provide services or work for “Essential Businesses,” which are carefully defined in 26 categories set forth in Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s Emergency Order 2020-02 of March 22, 2020.

At all times, those outside their homes for any Essential Activity or permitted work are expected to observe social distancing requirements (maintaining six feet of distance between themselves and other individuals) to the extent possible; avoid any nonessential travel; and otherwise work from, and remain at, home. Given Hawai`i’s island status and isolation from the rest of the United States, the state and county governments are taking all reasonable measures to protect the population, minimize spread of the disease, and continue essential operation of the government and economy.


In light of the significant military and government presence throughout Hawai`i, it is imperative that federal contractors keep abreast of the scope of the changes and the implications many of these COVID-19 response orders will have on their contracts and performance under those contracts. Advice and counseling for these efforts can be found here and will be updated routinely.