Catching fire from travelers who found Hawaii’s mandatory two-week quarantine policy for out-of-state arrivals a bit too excessive, the state’s governor walked that ruling back a bit last week.
Gov. David Ige has now ruled that all travelers arriving in Hawaii from out-of-state will be required to get a valid COVID-19 test prior to their arrival, and to show proof of a negative test result to avoid the 14-day quarantine. The pre-travel testing policy begins Aug. 1.
Evidence of a negative test result must be presented upon arrival in Hawaii. Without this, passengers arriving from out-of-state will be subject to the 14-day quarantine. No testing for this purpose will be provided upon arrival at the airport. The valid COVID-19 test can be taken up to 72 hours prior to a flight to Hawaii.
In addition, travelers will be required to fill out the State Travel and Health form. Pages on the Hawaii Tourism Authority website and the Hawaiian Airlines website offer more information and links to needed forms in a tangle of confusing regulations, yet to be clarified and streamlined.
“Lifting the 14-day quarantine for out-of-state travel will require an intensive airport screening process, increased contact tracing and monitoring of cases, and careful tracking of the state’s progress in controlling and containing the coronavirus. This is a huge undertaking by the state and a tremendous commitment from public health as we embark on these new and untested initiatives and face many unknowns. It is definitely a new normal,” said Bruce Anderson, director, Hawaii Department of Health.
At the airport, temperature checks and screening will continue as well and travelers with a temperature of over 100.4 degrees, or who have been experiencing other symptoms, will have to go through a secondary screening process at the airport.
“Well, it’s not perfect. But a pre-test will minimize the risk that COVID-19 has imported in our state,” said Lieutenant Governor Josh Green. “We’re not playing around here,” he said. “We are telling people, get your test before you come here to keep the numbers low so the DOH (Department of Health) can do their job.”
Hawaiian Airlines sent an email to members of its frequent flyer program Thursday, in a bit of a “welcome back” effort: “We are excited to share that we will soon be able to welcome you back to our beautiful island home. We can’t wait to have you onboard soon.”
Hawaii has largely been spared the wrath of the coronavirus wave and likely because of stringent policies that protect the islands from outside exposure with no-nonsense quarantine rules and painful penalties for violation. The state has a population of approximately 1.4 million residents, however, the statewide count for confirmed cases since the pandemic began currently stands at 899. The death toll is counted at 18 and exposures requiring hospitalization stands at 110.