Kauai requests to rejoin Hawaii’s Safe Travels program

Local News

HONOLULU (KHON2) — Kauai is requesting to rejoin the state’s Safe Travels program for Trans-Pacific travelers.

Gov. David Ige must approve the proposed Emergency Rule 25 for it to be effective on April 5.

Emergency Rule 25 would allow travelers to be exempt from Hawaii’s 10-day travel quarantine by participating in the state’s Safe Travels pre-travel testing program. It would also no longer be necessary for visitors to stay in a Resort Bubble or spend time on another Hawaiian island before traveling to Kauai in order to receive a quarantine exemption.

According to Kauai Mayor Derek S. K. Kawakami, the county’s vaccine distribution has made him comfortable enough to opt back into the program.

“As far as vaccine distribution they have like all cylinders firing. They run very well organized we’re ahead of where we have forecasted,” Kawakami told KHON2 News.

Kawakami also added that case counts in the state and across the mainland are stabilizing, and if needed, local hospitals are prepared for a surge.

The state’s safe travels program started in mid-October. On December 2nd, Mayor Kawakami opted-out, citing travel-related COVID-19 cases in the county, even though the Garden Isle only saw a 12% gain in visitor arrivals at that time.

Mayor Kawakami says the county now has enough data and testing to believe in the program.

“Clearly from the data we were able to pull up from the positive cases is it seemed to work for the other islands but for Kauai the majority of our cases were travel related,” Mayor Kawakami said.

As an added safety measure, free COVID-19 testing is being at the Kauai War Memorial Convention Hall weekdays from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The following Kauai hotels have committed to supporting post-travel testing to their guests: Kauai Marriott Resort & Beach Club, Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa, The Cliffs at Princeville, The Club at Kukuiula, Timbers Kauai at Hokuala, Sheraton Kauai at Coconut Beach, The Point at Poipu, Hanalei Colony Resort, Koloa Landing Resort and Suite Paradise.

Opting-out has impacted many businesses — some even forced to close their doors.

“It’s going to be a much needed relief for many of these businesses that have been making sacrifices that have been afraid, that have been frustrated,” Mayor Kawakami said. “I’m very sorry, we hear you, light is at the end of the tunnel as far as April when we opt back in.”

As for getting visitors to return after a fickle testing program, Kawakami says that the island sells itself.

“There are a number of visitors who see Kauai as a premier destination because one we’re very beautiful, our people are very beautiful, and I got to say that we’re one of the safest places and we intend to keep it that way,” Mayor Kawakami said.

If Kauai’s proposal is approved, travelers could avoid quarantine by taking the following steps:

Proof of vaccination is not a recognized exemption to Hawaii’s travel quarantine. Visitors to Kauai are also not eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, even if they received their first dose prior to their trip. Vaccine supply is for residents only.

Click here for more information about the Safe Travels program requirements.

Click here for more information on COVID-19 on Kauai and the travel rules.

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