HONOLULU (KHON2) — Hawaii’s two incoming mayors want changes to the Safe Travels Program, and allow passengers to be released from the 14-day quarantine if they get a negative COVID result after arrival. It’s a proposal some lawmakers and health experts want the governor to consider.
Just two days before Thanksgiving, Gov. David Ige tightened the Safe Travels Program. Passengers who are not able to have their negative test results in hand when they arrive must quarantine for 14 days. The House Select Committee on COVID-19 says that change has led to millions of dollars in lost revenue due to travel cancellations.
The committee has submitted a proposal which it has referred to as “The White Paper,” which calls for passengers still waiting for their results from one of the trusted partners, to take a rapid test at the airport after arriving in Hawaii.
“And if you’re negative, you simply stay in quarantine until you get your trusted partner test. And if that’s also negative then you’re released from quarantine,” said Dr. Mark Mugiishi, HMSA President and CEO.
Honolulu’s incoming mayor Rick Blangiardi and the just inaugurated Hawaii County Mayor Mitch Roth say they support the proposal.
“I’m really not in favor of more quarantines. I know first hand that the Safe Travels Program is working,” said Roth.
“I’m all for those things that will move us forward, accepting the disease, willing to live with the disease. We can’t really wait it out, let’s be prudent, let’s take the actions, let’s act responsibly to the extent where we can be aggressive, if you will,” said Blangiardi.
The governor made the change because of the surge in mainland cases. Although he pointed out that of more than 270-thousand travelers screened at that time, only 44 of them received a positive result after arrival. Committee members point out that the governor’s change was unnecessary because since tourism reopened on October 15, there’s been no significant spike from travel.
They say it’s also because people generally have acted responsibly by wearing masks and following the rules on social distancing. Blangiardi adds that the proposal is important to get the economy back on track.
“The time has come now especially here in Hawaii, where our numbers are looking so good and we’ve got good parts in place. We have really almost a controlled site that we just move forward here,” he said.