Inter-island travelers want option to bypass quarantine similar to pre-travel testing program

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) — While the state is preparing for mainland visitors to come in with the pre-travel testing program set to launch on Oct. 15, many are questioning why inter-island travelers don’t have the same option.

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Hawaii Governor David Ige extended the mandatory 14-day inter-island quarantine, which does not include travel to Oahu, to the end of the month.

Families who live on different islands say that it has been really difficult to be unable to see their loved ones due to quarantine. They want the same option as travelers who come from out-of-state to skip the quarantine through pre-travel testing, if necessary.

“This doesn’t seem fair that we cannot go neighbor islands, and yet we can go to the mainland and come back and we can take a test,” said Maui resident Clarice Kaawa. “I want to hear that all travelers are treated equally.”

Clarice lives on Maui, but she and her husband want to visit her father-in-law on Oahu. But because they have to quarantine for 14-days upon arrival back to Maui, they haven’t been able to see him in months.

“My father in law is 80-years-old, and he’s on an oxygen tank, and he’s not doing very well. My husband wants to go see him, but we can’t afford to take 14 days in quarantine,” said Kaawa. 

Another woman on Oahu, who did not want to give her last name, said she wants to be able to visit her 60-year-old mother on Maui for the holidays.

“I’m a teacher and there’s no way I could be out of work two weeks right now and tend to my students,” said Kini. “Especially if you’re only going away for a weekend, which is what most people do.”

She said she would rather there be strict enforcement on Oahu to keep COVID-19 numbers down and be able to travel freely.

“It would be everything to me right now. I would gladly give up the right to sit on the beach, the right to get my nails done, just to be able to go home and see my mom,” said Kini.

Honolulu City Council member Tommy Waters agrees.

“It doesn’t make sense,” pointed out Waters. “The local people are traveling inter-island would have to quarantine for 14 days, when someone traveling from New York, or California, can come right in and doesn’t have to quarantine for 14 days.”

Waters introduced a resolution, urging Governor David Ige to implement a two or more test system for all incoming passengers with the Honolulu City Council approved.

He also said that there should be further consideration of the pre-travel testing plans, possibly opening to inter-island travelers before mainland travelers.

“I don’t think this has really been thought through enough,” said Waters. “[The council vote] was a unanimous nine to zero. I have a stack full of testimony from people from all over the state actually that were really, really concerned.”

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