Council member urges Governor Ige to adopt two-test travel system as state sets to reopen tourism


National Guard are seen at a checkpoint in the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport. April 6, 2020.

HONOLULU (KHON2) — Honolulu City Council member Tommy Waters is urging Governor David Ige to postpone the state’s pre-travel testing, which is set to launch on Oct. 15. Waters expressed concern that a one-time COVID-19 test would fail to accurately detect and prevent virus spread from travelers to the community.

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In a resolution sent on Thursday, Oct. 1, Councilman Waters urged the governor to adopt a two-or-more test requirement along with implementing a shortened version of Hawaii’s current mandatory 14-day quarantine, which has been in effect since March 26.

The pre-travel testing program would allow transpacific travelers to opt-out of quarantine by providing proof of a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of flight arrival. State officials have expressed hopes that this initiative will allow Hawaii’s economy to begin the road to recovery while also minimizing virus spread. Councilman Waters disagrees.

Waters wrote that having just one test still allows certain travelers who may be positive for COVID-19 to slip through the cracks, elevating the burden on the state’s COVID-19 contact tracers. He also expressed worries that a spike in cases stemming from travel could force Hawai’i into another shutdown, which may force permanent closures of more local businesses.

“Infectious disease experts believe that a single pre-travel test is likely to miss 43 percent of travelers infected with COVID-19. The hospitality industry and small businesses have deeply struggled during the pandemic, and a steep rise in COVID-19 cases due to increased arrivals of infected travelers to Hawaii under a one-test system, could lead lead a subsequent closure of the economy or further shutdowns.”

Tommy Waters, Honolulu City Council, District 4

The governor has not yet responded to this request.

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