Gov. Ige approves Kauai’s request to opt out of pre-travel test program

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) — Gov. David Ige has approved Kauai Mayor Derek Kawakami’s request to opt out of the state’s pre-travel test program. All travelers to the Garden Isle must complete a 14-day quarantine starting Wednesday, Dec. 2.

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The governor said the surge on the mainland and the rise in community spread on Kauai are concerning and they must ensure Kauai hospitals do not become overwhelmed. Gov. Ige made the announcement through a statement on Nov. 27.

Mayor Kawakami said a temporary pause in the Safe Travels Program is the safest measure Kauai can take at this stage in the pandemic.

“As our cases continue to rise, it made no longer sense to us to further restrict our on-island activities when that’s not the current source of infection. The safest measure we can take at this point in time is to take a temporary pause from the Safe Travels program, while the rest of the nation works to get the spread of COVID contained so that we can gladly welcome back travelers when the risk can be better mitigated.”

Kauai mayor derek kawakami

Critical infrastructure workers, those who have to travel for medical reasons and other circumstances will still be exempt, but must apply for a modified quarantine.

However, some businesses that were counting on holiday visitors to ramp up sales say going back to a mandatory 14-day quarantine will be a huge blow.

“That’s gonna be devastating. We just literally we spent probably $20,000, you know stocking the whole place up. We’ve got grain that’s on its way, in anticipation of seeing more people,” said Bret Larson, Kauai Island Brewing Company co-owner.

Larson said after the first mandatory 14-day quarantine was implemented back in March, their business dropped by 95 percent.

Business has gone up since then due to the Safe Travels program, but now he’s not sure what will happen.

“We’re probably going to end up having to lay off some of the people that we brought back, because we’re not going to be able to sustain that that you know that level of employment, and that’s really, really unfortunate,” said Larson.

They are not the only ones that expect to see impacts.

“It’s definitely going to close down whatever tourism had started coming back, is what I expect,” said Gary Moore, Hokuala and Timbers Kauai managing director.

Moore said they prepared for something like this. The resort got approved to become an official resort bubble location, but it will still be requiring a pre-test for travelers staying at their resort.

“We want to make sure we have all measures in place that we can – with the pre-test, with a follow-up test, of course the social distancing and the masks, and our resort setup, (so that people have) different pods, if you will,” said Moore.

Gov. Ige did not say when Kauai will return to the Safe Travels program, but Kauai Mayor Kawakami said he will move to repeal the opt-out order once the virus is under control.

The pre-travel testing program is still in effect for all other Hawaii counties.

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