House speaker to propose statewide travel rule for Hawaii


HONOLULU (KHON2) — House Speaker Scott Saiki plans to introduce a bill when the House reconvenes on Wednesday, Jan. 20, to make the state’s safe travel program uniform regardless of which island is being visited.

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A proposal at the State Capitol could make it easier for more travelers to come to Hawaii.

When the state’s pre-travel testing program launched in October, county mayors shared their concerns and wanted additional testing.

Maui and Kauai added safeguards to have the flexibility to opt out of the state’s testing program if case numbers started to rise.

In December, Kauai opted out of the state’s pre-travel testing program and on January 5, opted back into the program with new rules in place.

Inter-island travelers can travel to Kauai with a pre-test if they have been in the State of Hawaii for three days as of Tuesday, Jan. 5. Trans-pacific travelers can participate in the island’s resort bubble program that includes a pre-travel test, three-day quarantine, and post-arrival test

Saiki’s proposal would require trans-pacific travelers to take a single negative COVID-19 test within three days before entering the state, regardless of the island they plan on arriving in.

“We should not be setting up obstacles or barriers to those who want to travel to Hawaii and who have tested negative and are COVID-free,” said Speaker Saiki.

Speaker Saiki said, inter-island travelers would still have to take a pre-test if they are flying to any county other than Honolulu.

“The bill would also propose that if someone arrives here, and has not yet received the test result, through no fault of their own, then they will be able to take a rapid test at the airport,” Saiki continued.

He said, results would be ready within a few hours and the person can bypass quarantine if their test comes back negative.

He said, he understands other county mayors might have concerns and that health and safety come first.

“Travel is a big part of our statewide economy, and in order for all of us to benefit from travel all of the counties have to be on board,” he said. “We cannot be creating exemptions. If you do that, it disrupts this statewide system.”

Lt. Gov. Josh Green said, he is for the legislation and that the state’s pre-travel testing program will be around indefinitely.

“We should always respect all the mayor’s input without a doubt, but we have run into some challenges from the mainland and from the rest of the world looking at us not fully understanding what the differences are between one island or another one county or another,” explained Green.

“So to the extent we can make them all the same, that is a smart move, and I would tend to support Speaker Saiki’s position on that.”

“I do hope personally, that once people are vaccinated, we’re able to let them come in without having too much in the way of inconvenience. I’ll feel comfortable with that, but I still wanted to get the scientific opinion,” he said.

Green said, the CDC is currently doing a study to see if vaccinated people can carry COVID-19 asymptomatically.

“It’ll take about 90 days to complete, to see exactly how immune people are and whether or not they carry the virus at all after getting the shot,” he said.

The House reconvenes on Wednesday, Jan. 20.

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