Oahu, Big Island, Kauai, Maui shut down vacation rentals during pandemic
- Apr 21, 2020 | Jennifer Sokolowsky
City and county governments are closing down short-term rentals in major Hawaii tourism hubs, wary of tourists spreading infection during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said on April 16 that short-term rentals are considered nonessential businesses and that they are closed to tourists on Oahu. Owners may stay at their own vacation rental properties. The city-county Planning and Permitting Department said it was going to ask online short-term rental marketplaces to stop advertising Oahu properties. The department also plans to coordinate with airport officials to make sure visitors are reporting legitimate hotel addresses for their stays.
Earlier in the month, Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim shut down vacation rentals and bed-and-breakfasts on the Big Island through at least April 30. Visitors who had checked in by April 13 were allowed to stay for the duration of their reservations. Essential workers, such as medical personnel, first responders, or workers in critical trades, are allowed to stay in short-term rentals.
Hawaii County vacation rental hosts may continue to advertise and book guests for stays outside of the shutdown period. However, “under no circumstances shall web advertisements try to take advantage of the COVID‐19 crisis,” or try to attract visitors with phrases such as “Quarantine in Paradise,” according to the county. Officials are monitoring vacation rental advertisements and “citations are being issued.”
An order from Kauai Mayor Derek Kawakami closing vacation rentals went into effect on April 11. The order will “continue through the COVID-19 emergency, or until terminated sooner by the mayor’s order.”
And on Maui, Mayor Michael Victorino announced that short-term rentals and bed-and-breakfasts may only provide accommodations for essential workers, effective April 10. Violators can be fined $5,000. Visitors staying in vacation rentals at the time were allowed to finish their stays.
Hawaii Governor David Ige issued a mandatory two-week quarantine order for out-of-state and inter-island travelers as of April 1. Visitors must report the address where they are staying. Violations of the order are punishable with fines of up to $5,000 and/or up to one year in prison.
Statewide, hotels and motels are considered essential businesses, so they remain open, but vacation rentals are not included. Ige has also shut down beaches and limited fishing and boating to two people at a time.