Escaping to paradise is going to take a little planning.
Hawaiian Gov. David Ige has announced various safety steps that arriving travelers must heed at three major islands amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, as the Aloha State relaxes its quarantine requirements for out-of-state visitors Thursday.
Before the Oct. 15 launch of the long-awaited pre-travel testing program, Ige approved enhanced protocols that will impact travelers visiting Kauai, Maui and the Big Island, KHON2 reported Tuesday
“Kauai County has established a voluntary testing program on day three after arrival, and Maui County also established a voluntary post-arrival testing program. Hawaii Island will require an antigen test for all arriving trans-pacific travelers who are participating in the pre-travel testing program,” the governor said in a news conference.
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Officials for Hawaii County said these tests will be given at all three airports on the Big Island; anyone who tests positive must take a PCR test and quarantine under the results return.
“The truth of the matter is, we knew that once they leave the airport, it will be almost an impossible task to ensure that we can get all of them to take the test and to get the test to go to them,” Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim said of the important step for incoming visitors.
Officials for Kauai and Maui counties have also agreed to adopt the pre-travel testing program, allowing inter-island travelers from Oahu to skip the quarantine period if they can provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test within three days of traveling, according to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.
“Those going from Honolulu to Maui and Kauai will be able to get a pre-travel test 72 hours prior to departure and avoid quarantine,” Ige said.
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Ige and Kim continue to discuss inter-island travel rules for Hawaii County as they focus on the launch of the trans-Pacific travel program, Maui Now reports.
“As you know, over the last week or two, there has been an increase in the number of cases on Hawaiʻi Island, which I know that the mayor is concerned with,” Ige also revealed of the delay.
Also Tuesday, the governor signed an emergency proclamation extending the mandatory 14-day quarantine for all arriving travelers to Nov. 30, though the pre-travel testing program is still slated to begin tomorrow.
“I want to remind all travelers that following safe practices – at home, while traveling and upon returning – is the only way to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” Ige stressed, per the outlet. “Wear a face mask, wash your hands frequently and watch your distance around other people, even if you’ve recently tested negative for COVID-19.”
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The Associated Press reported that state officials are hopeful the pre-travel coronavirus testing program will give local tourism a much-needed boost while keeping residents safe. Tourism traffic to the Aloha State has plunged over 90% since the pandemic began.