HONOLULU (KHON2) — The House Select Committee on COVID-19 has sent the state a proposal that could, once again, change the Safe Travels program.
Get news on the go with KHON 2GO, KHON’s morning podcast, every morning at 8
Committee members call the first month of the state’s pre-travel testing program an unqualified success, but in their proposal they also say the program should be modified following recent events.
Under the proposal, travelers who could not get their test results before leaving for Hawaii would be under quarantine until they are able to obtain a rapid test upon arrival. Both results would have to be negative. This would add an extra layer of protection during a time when mainland cases are surging. The committee says the latest change to the program, which requires travelers to have their results before arriving or face quarantine, has also caused unintended consequences.
“Frist of all, we have about 300 to 2,000 room night cancellations per property already during the months of December and January. That’s millions of dollars lost in revenue which is already causing consideration in staff downsizing,” said President and CEO of HMSA Dr. Mark Mugiishi.
Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell says he sent a similar request to the Governor last week. Having a second test upon arrival for those who don’t have their results yet addresses concerns over quarantine enforcement. Mayor Caldwell says enforcement efforts become difficult as more people are forced into quarantine.
“And while we don’t have any evidence of it, we believe that those visitors coming in, who took the time to get a pre-test but don’t have a result, that are required to go into quarantine, not all of them are going to comply,” said Mayor Caldwell.
Starting Wednesday, all travelers to Kauai must quarantine as the county has chosen to opt-out of the state’s pre-travel program. This comes after travel-related cases have been increasing. While the Safe Travels program could be adequate for the rest of the state, Kauai County Mayor Derek Kawakami believes a single pre-travel test does not provide enough protection for Kauai. Mayor Kawakami says they’ll review the committee’s proposal.
“We are pretty convinced that having a three day shortened quarantine post-arrival, followed by a second rapid test is the right way to balance the recovery and manage the health perspective,” Mayor Kawakami said.