HONOLULU (KHON2) — There are a lot of things riding on the state’s pre-travel testing program, which starts Thursday, Oct. 15. Mainland travelers who test negative for COVID-19 can skip the 14-day quarantine, which is why travelers say they don’t want to get it wrong.
People coming into Hawaii tell KHON2 they have spent hours searching for exactly what they need to do for the state’s pre-travel testing program. Even though the state actually has a website that will answer most questions, many were not aware of it and had to search for it.
“Up until last week, I thought we were set to go,” said Jeff Smith, a California resident traveling to Maui. “And then on Friday, I started looking a little bit deeper [into testing]. I’m like wait, this isn’t going to work. We have to go through the trusted [testing] partners.”
Smith and his wife Kathy are both healthcare workers. They get tested regularly and thought that would be enough for the program. They are arriving in on Oct. 15 to celebrate their anniversary. It’s a trip they already had planned since the beginning of the year.
Smith said they considered cancelling, but ultimately decided to keep the date because of Hawaii’s pre-travel testing program.
However, he said he wasn’t made aware of the state’s COVID-19 website, even from the airlines he’s traveling with or his accommodations.
“It was tough to try to find out any information about the actual requirements, I was going to lots of different websites,” said Smith.
He’s not the only one confused.
Marlen Vences, who plans to fly to the Big Island from Texas said she’s planning on taking two COVID-19 tests, one at CVS and one at Walgreens, because she wants to be sure her results are accepted.
“I called the Walgreens to find out which one is for the pre-travel [testing program], and they have no idea,” said Vences. “I wish [Hawaii] would let trusted [testing] partners know there will be people calling for information, [and] let them know which is the right test to take.”
“I can’t play the guessing game once I arrive, and they’re like, oh this is not the right test and then [we have to] quarantine.”Marlen Vences
Two tests aren’t just costly but unnecessary if travelers follow the state’s guidelines, posted on the Hawaii COVID-19 website.
The website lays out the need-to-know information from how to register with the mandatory Safe Travels system to a list of the types of tests currently being accepted.
Smith said there are also links to register for the proper tests. He said once he found them, it was easy to set up a test in their state. But there were other things to be mindful of.
“Our last leg is at one o’clock,” said Smith. “We had to make sure that we took our test after one o’clock, [so] that fit in that 72 hour timeframe. So you have to be careful in that aspect.”
Then, at least 24 hours before travelers depart, they will have to log in to the Safe Travels website again to fill out the Travel Health Questionnaire. Test results will need to be uploaded in the Documents section of the Safe Travels digital platform. To find out more on the process, here is a link to the pre-travel testing flow chart.
For some soon-to-be visitors, the extras steps are worth it.
“I’ve always wanted to go to Hawaii,” said Vences. “That’s been my dream for many years. And I finally have the money. I finally have the chance.”