HONOLULU (KHON2) — Governor David Ige has set a new date for reopening tourism to mainland travelers, pushing it back to Oct. 15. This will be the third time it has been delayed. The governor has also put together a leadership team to finally get the pre-testing program to happen.
The governor has appointed Lt. Gov. Josh Green, Gen. Kenneth Hara, and Department of Health (DOH) Director Dr. Libby Char to take the lead on the pre-testing program for arriving passengers. Questions remain on whether there will be enough tests available and if travelers will be able to get the results within 72 hours of departure.
“We have agreements in place with CVS and Kaiser Permanente who will offer the tests, and we will announce new testing partners in the coming weeks,” said Ige.
Those who do not get tested or are not able to get negative results within 72 hours will still be required to quarantine. Gen. Hara expressed more optimism that the reopening plan will happen this time. He says the state has been able to increase testing and contact tracing capabilities, which are necessary to reopen tourism. He adds that the healthcare system is also more prepared.
“We were able to bring in a total of 30 intensive care and public health nurses to support Queen’s and Kuakini Hospitals,” said Hara.
For now, the only tests considered valid are the deep nasal swab tests. The cost is $120-$140 and travelers will have to pay for them on their own. Although, Green said that Kaiser might be willing to pay for those who are members. Green also said other tests might be considered if they prove reliable.
“As cheaper, quicker tests become available and we have acceptable tests that are specific and sensitive, we’ll work with DOH, DOT, airports, healthcare people everywhere to use those tests also,” said Green.
The governor says he is also looking at setting up a pre-testing program for interisland travelers, but it’s not clear when that will happen.
“As we speak, there is a task force with representation from each county to talk about what that program might look like, how would we be able to implement it, and when we would be able to start it,” said Ige.