HONOLULU (KHON2) — With mainland tourism set to reopen on Oct. 15, the lieutenant governor gave assurances that the state will be ready.
He added that there will be risks and additional COVID cases, but said that they will be manageable.
Lt. Gov. Josh Green estimated that only one in 1,000 passengers with COVID will slip through the pre-arrival testing program. So if we get 8,000 passengers a day, that’s an additional eight COVID cases, which he said that the state can handle.
“So adding eight to establish the economy again or maybe even a little bit more, as people I know will push back on that number. Even adding a little bit more is still something, as long as we do the right things with public health,” said Lt. Gov. Green.
He pointed out that the healthcare system is in good shape, and that we’re well on our way to having enough contact tracers and COVID tests. So the additional risks will be worth it considering the demand anticipated.
Hotel bookings are showing that the demand is rising steadily, from just 19% in Oct. and 32% by Nov. and nearly 46% in Feb. compared to the previous year. Lt. Gov. Green said that the state also plans to beta test the system on Oct. 10 through Oct. 14. This means that some flights will allow passengers to get tested within 72 hours before departure.
“It’s important because we want to get this right. These people will just go through as though they were going through the program after the 15th or starting on the 15th. Fully beta tested, they go through the whole process, they get a negative test, they come through and they don’t have to quarantine,” said Green.
As for inter-island travel, Lt. Gov. Green said that it’s still not practical to have passengers get another test just days after arrival, which is what neighbor island mayors are pushing for. Lt. Gov. Green said that there just aren’t enough tests, but he wants to do what’s called strategic surveillance, which would be testing 100 passengers per day who volunteer four days after arrival. He said that he wants to do that for the first two months to help determine if there’s any surge in traveling.
“We could see have we missed the mark at all? How many of them were actually positive? How many became positive in the interval when they got there pre-arrival test and the time they spent at the airport, on the plane and so on,” said Lt. Gov. Green.
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