Mayors to meet with governor on plans to lift travel quarantine amid COVID-19 spike

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) — On Wednesday, Governor David Ige will meet with county mayors to discuss plans moving forward.

The mayors say the topics include students returning to public school, students returning to the University of Hawaii, and the state’s plan to lift the 14-day mandatory quarantine for travelers coming into Hawaii.

One thing mayors say they want to make sure of is that Hawaii has the resources to handle the current spike of COVID-19 cases (41 reported on Tuesday) before relaxing any travel restrictions.

Aug. 1 is the planned date to lift travel restrictions. Students return to public school on Aug. 4 and college students return to the University of Hawaii on Aug. 24.

“The concern [is] that August will be the perfect storm,” said Maui Mayor Mike Victorino.  “We’re afraid that if we’ve not gotten the spike under control, [lifting the travel quarantine] could make it even worse.”

Victorino said sick travelers are his primary concern. Recently, he said many of Maui County’s cases involved people returning from out-of-state.

“I would like to have everyone tested and tested negative before they get on the plane,” said Victorino. “As the mainland continues to increase with cases testing may become more difficult so people may not be able to get in three or four days before they depart to get their tests and their results back.”

Under the state’s plan, travelers whose test results are pending when they get on the plane would be required to quarantine for 14 days. However, Victorino said this still allows for positive cases to potentially come into the state.

Big Island Mayor Harry Kim has similar concerns, especially with out-of-state students returning to the University of Hawaii Hilo in the coming weeks.

“My concerns were when I saw the university plan, and when I saw the state reopening the doors to tourism, that there are some holes that we need to discuss and patch,” said Kim.

Kim said he and the other three mayors will be reviewing the plans carefully because it directly affects how their counties work.

“The governor’s level, the state level, it’s the policy people,” said Kim. “We here in the county level [are] the operational people, and we’re the ones for the most part, [that] have to ensure it works.”

For Kim and Victorino, they say safety is the top priority.

“If we talk about tourism or university students or if we’re talking about travel, the common denominator is to make sure it’s not a negative impact on the safety of the people of Hawaii state,” said Kim.

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