Mayors to decide whether to keep or lift inter-island quarantine, or require additional testing

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) — Visitors who decide to fly to Hawaii before Oct. 31 should consider which island they want to visit as the inter-island quarantine remains in place, for now, through October.

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In his latest emergency proclamation, Governor David Ige extended the inter-island quarantine but left it up to the county mayors to decide whether the quarantine should be kept in place, lifted, or if they want to see additional testing measures put in place.

Hawaii’s pre-travel testing program will kick off on Oct. 15. Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino said that he’d like to see inter-island testing before trans-Pacific travel begins.

“By next week Wednesday, we hope to have an announcement approved by the governor to let us open in a safe manner,” he said in a press conference on Friday afternoon, Sept. 25. “And have maybe a modified quarantine instead of a full 14-day quarantine.”

The mayors have been tight-lipped over what they’re leaning towards.

Each mayor has their own case numbers and enforcement measures to consider, but Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim, Kauai County Mayor Derek Kawakami and Mayor Victorino said that whatever they decide to do is for the health and safety of their residents. This is especially due to the lack of medical resources on the neighbor islands.

“I’d like to lift the quarantine for inter-island or modify the quarantine as of October 1,” Mayor Victorino told KHON2 on Friday morning. “That way we have time to test it, right? So, people will travel. If you don’t travel, then we won’t have the opportunity to really see how the trans-Pacific will work by testing the inter-island testing.”

Gov. Ige’s office said that he’d like the counties decision to be uniform.

Hawaii Lieutenant Governor Dr. Josh Green said that mayors discussed an additional test for inter-island travel, but it would be hard to do because the state only has 4,000 daily tests available.

Lt. Gov. Green said pre-COVID, there were about 25,000 inter-island travelers a day.

“Recently, our numbers have been closer to like 2,000 to 3,000 inter-island travelers, that still would quickly exhaust all of our tests,” Lt. Gov. Green explained.

He said that with the latest active case numbers, neighbor island mayors should consider lifting the inter-island quarantine the same time the pre-travel testing program begins.

“That should give the mayor some reassurance that there really does not need to be inter-island quarantine for much longer,” Lt. Gov. Green said. “My personal recommendation to them would be to get rid of it is in accordance and kind of in-concert with our October 15 start, it’s really not necessary.”

In a statement to KHON2 on Friday, Kauai Mayor Derek Kawakami stated:

“We thank Gov. Ige for opening this avenue for our team to explore as we continue to look into options that will begin to reopen our economy while protecting the health and safety of all residents and visitors. While we do not have any final plans at this time, we are in discussions with stakeholders on what is feasible for a successful program and realistic for our county team to manage and maintain.”

If the mayors cannot reach a decision, residents and visitors will have to quarantine for 14-days if they plan on island-hopping to an island other than Oahu.

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