City offering 28,000 free tests for hotel workers through November

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) — Thousands of tourism employees have either gone back to work or are getting ready to.

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But there are still concerns of catching and containing the virus quickly enough so it doesn’t spread, enforcing quarantine breakers and making sure visitors understand the state and county rules.

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell announced that hotel workers can get tested in Waikiki and Ko Olina through Nov. 30.  

Mayor Caldwell said the city is using its remaining 28,000 testing kits leftover from surge testing this summer.

Testing is free and for everyone, but Mayor Caldwell said the focus is on residents who work in the visitor industry. Results can be given in two to three days.

The city has conducted 1,467 tests so far. Both locations will have the ability to test up to 500 people per day.

UNITE HERE Local 5 is Oahu’s largest hotel union and has been pushing for hotels to offer workers testing for months.

“We will ask the hotel to step up to the plate, and do the right thing for the workers and we would like them to do the same thing to continue testing the workers regularly,” said Local 5 President Gemma Weinstein.

Mayor Caldwell said that testing will help to see if the virus is spreading at hotels as the state welcomes back visitors.

“We will find out what’s happening in terms of people coming back to our shores and if the virus coming with them, even with the pre-test,” explained Mayor Caldwell.

Earlier today, Lt. Gov. Josh Green said surveillance testing has found one positive test out of about 4,000 travelers. All travelers who comply with the state’s surveillance testing program have already undergone the pre-test.

Caldwell said he wanted information about the numbers on a daily basis, and not wait for a study to come out in a month or two.

“So, we need to know the consequences of actions being taken as we open up the visitors,” Mayor Caldwell said. “We’re hoping that the risk is minimal. If we do see risk, we want to be able to adjust in real-time, so that we can continue to move through the tiers, and continue to welcome visitors back with maybe additional protocols or protections, if necessary.”

Some hotel workers have told Local 5 representatives that some visitors are not wearing masks around the hotel.

“There are some people that’s listening and there some that are not,” Weinstein said.  “I think the most important thing is, who’s going to enforce what protocol the hotel has? And it’s important that we ask every hotel to put it out there publicly what protocol they have.”

Mayor Caldwell said the Honolulu Police Department (HPD) spoke with hotel security workers who will call rooms of people who are in quarantine three times a day.

As of Oct. 22, Mayor Caldwell said there were 7,902 people in quarantine on Oahu.

He said that 2,552 were visitors and 5,360 were residents.

If the person in quarantine does not answer, security will knock on the door. If no one responds, they will call HPD.

HPD will issue warnings to visitors who do not follow local regulations. A citation will be issued if a visitor refuses to comply.

Mayor Caldwell said that about 4,5000 warnings have been given and about 450 citations have been issued.

“We need the visitor industry to do their part to get compliance, enforce quarantine, enforce mask-wearing on their properties,” he said. “So, this resentment [between residents and visitors] doesn’t grow, and there’s a backlash that kills our aloha spirit, the very thing that brings visitors to our shores.”

Mayor Caldwell said he is having a meeting with tourism leaders this afternoon to discuss how visitors can be up to date on local laws and mandates.

Those interested in testing must register online first.

Here’s a list of testing locations:

Waikiki Shell at 2805 Monsarrat Ave.
Thursday to Sunday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Bring your voucher to your test appointment. If you cannot print, a voucher will be created for you at the site.

Ko Olina Resort Center at 92-1047 Olani St, Kapolei
Tuesday, Oct. 27 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Walmart Kapolei
Wednesday, Oct. 28, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Waikiki Hilton Waikiki Beach at 2500 Kuhio Ave
Saturday, Oct. 24, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Aloha Stadium
Friday, Oct. 23, from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.

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