HONOLULU (KHON2) — Hawaii’s pre-travel testing program begins on Thursday.
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Travelers from the mainland will be able to fly to Hawaii with a negative coronavirus test result.
The state’s mandatory 14-day quarantine is still in effect for inter-island travel until Oct. 31. It is up to Governor David Ige to decide whether to extend it and keep the quarantine in place, or lift it and allow residents and visitors to freely travel between islands.
Maui County Managing Director Sandy Baz has been in communications with neighbor island mayors and the governor alongside Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino.
Baz said he anticipates Governor Ige will extend the inter-island quarantine but Ige verbally approved of Mayor Victorino’s request to allow Maui County residents to travel freely between Molokai, Lanai and Maui without having to quarantine.
“The governor has also verbally approved our request to allow inter-county travelers to participate in a pre-travel test,” Baz said during a press conference. “If you do come from another county into Maui County, you can test out of quarantine versus having to quarantine just like the state program.”
Neighbor island residents would have to test negative for a COVID-19 test 72 hours before arriving to Maui County, just like trans-pacific travelers.
Baz said they are awaiting a final signature from Gov. Ige and Mayor Victorino will discuss the details in a press conference either Tuesday or Wednesday.
House Speaker Scott Saiki said he and the senate leader requested that Ige implement a pre-travel testing program for inter-island travel but hasn’t heard back yet.
“Something has to be solved about this inter-island quarantine,” said Wendy Laros, Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce. “Even doing the same thing that trans-pacific travelers would be doing is quite a lot, to get a test three days out just so you can do a quick trip over to Maui County. We have people who need to go back and forth a little bit more seamlessly, and I’m hoping that will be solved.”
Both Mayor Victorino and Kauai Mayor Derek Kawakami have asked Governor Ige to allow for travelers to voluntarily offer to do a post-arrival test. Both mayors also want to drop out of the pre-travel testing program if case numbers start to rise.
The Garden Isle has had the lowest number of COVID-19 cases in the state and is currently averaging 0 cases a week. Kauai is currently under Tier 4 which is the least restrictive tier.
“Should Kauai move to Tier 2, which assumes a one-week average of five to eight daily cases, it will trigger Kauai to automatically opt out of the states pre-travel plan and continue a 14-day quarantine,” Mayor Kawakami explained in a press conference on Friday.
Maui County said it would drop out of the pre-testing program if daily case counts jump to five to 10 cases per day over a seven-day average.
Big Island has asked Governor Ige that all incoming travelers take an antigen test when they arrive at Kona International Airport.
The test yields a result within 15 minutes. If you test positive, you’ll be required to take the gold standard PCR test and quarantine until the result comes back.
Any visitor who flies to Hawaii and tests positive for COVID-19 will be required to quarantine for 14-days regardless of how long their trip is.
Governor Ige is expected to make an announcement regarding the neighbor islands requests on Tuesday or Wednesday.