United Airlines offers Hawaii travelers COVID testing at SFO, inter-island quarantine extended through Oct. 31

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) — Some travelers to Hawaii will have a new option to get a pre-travel COVID-19 test once the pre-travel testing process goes into effect on Oct. 15.

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On Thursday, Sept. 24, United Airlines announced that it will offer COVID-19 testing at San Francisco International Airport for people flying to Hawaii.

The airline is working with GoHealth Urgent Care and test results will be provided within about 15 minutes.

“The cost for the on-site rapid test is currently $250,” said Aaron McMillian, United Airlines Operations Policy and Support Managing Director Aaron McMillian. “The process takes about 15 to 20 minutes start to finish, and now United travelers are able to walk away from the appointment, with their negative test result in hand, and head right up to the security line and head over to their gate.”

Anyone who doesn’t take the approved COVID-19 tests will still have to comply with Hawaii’s mandatory two-week quarantine order.

United Airlines said that they hope to expand their flights to neighbor islands come Oct. 15 when the pre-travel testing program kicks off.

Travelers can still get a test at Kaiser Permanente or at CVS within 72-hours of their flight, but because the inter-island quarantine has been extended through Oct. 31, residents and visitors will have to quarantine if they visit any island other than Oahu.

Lieutenant Governor Dr. Josh Green said that regardless of where a traveler is tested before flying to Hawaii, they will upload their test result onto their Safe Travels app and carry a physical copy as backup, which will also allow them to rent a car and do other activities.

“My humble opinion is that come October 15, we really do not need inter-island travel quarantines,” explained Lt. Gov. Green. “I think we should just accept the fact that we’re going to do a good job screening people before they come into Hawaii and that should be sufficient.”

In his latest emergency proclamation, Governor David Ige is giving the neighbor island mayors flexibility if they want to allow exceptions and lift the quarantine before then but wants the policy to be uniform.

Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim said he knows how big of an inconvenience the quarantine is for residents who want to travel to another island for one to two days, whether it’s for medical reasons or work.

“Right now, I don’t have a clear answer to it,” he said. “Right now, the policy is we’ll maintain the quarantine and each island has the ability to modify that and we’re trying to see how we can do that.”

Lt. Gov. Green said mayors can ask for an additional pre-test, which can be accommodated.

He said that mayors can decide if they want to do additional pre-testing which can be made available but doesn’t think it’s necessary.

“It’s just overkill, if I may, but safety is always important,” he said. “We will also be screening people for temperature and for close contacts, we’ll be checking their health records. This is more than any other state in the country does, maybe any other country in the world.”

“We don’t have a lot of tests but we have some extra,” Lt. Gov. Green explained. “We’ve been using an average of about 1,700 tests a day, and we can do 4,000 and we’re going to ramp up to about 13,000 tests in state a day. So, if that’s something the mayors would like to consider, they should recommend it to the governor.”  

“At some point, we have to acknowledge the fact that there’s COVID in the world, that for the most part, people are safe, unless they’re elderly, when they catch it,” Lt. Gov. Green continued. “It’s rarely that severe and we have a lot of additional precautions in place. We now have a lot more contact tracing and testing available.”

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