Starting Aug. 1st, travelers who test negative for coronavirus no more than 72 hours before arriving in Hawaii will be able to avoid the state’s mandatory quarantine. Gov. David Ige said the pre-testing plan will allow the tourism industry to reopen without a significant spike in new COVID-19 cases in Hawaii. “We recognize that there are many concerns that continue,” Ige said. “We believe this process of pre-testing does allow us to bring travelers back to Hawaii in a way that maintains a priority on the health and safety of our community.” Ige and other administration officials have pointed to a similar model being used in Alaska as proof that a pre-testing requirement can work. Alaska also provides testing upon landing, but Ige said that wasn’t practical for the islands. Mayor Kirk Caldwell acknowledged trepidation at the prospect of reopening tourism, especially given a worrisome surge of coronavirus cases in some parts of the mainland. But he said the safeguards in place, including contact tracing and widespread testing, will allow Hawaii to “live with the virus.” “We need to return to welcoming visitors to our shores,” Caldwell said. “For the state of Hawaii, we have approximately 240,000 unemployed people. We’re not going to see a return to a level of employment that we had before unless we open up to visitors.”
Pre-test part of multi-layered system
Lt. Gov. Josh Green, who helped develop the plan with the help of the health care professionals and business leaders, said it’s not a silver bullet but part of a “multi-layered system.”That system also includes a travel form, health screening questions, and a temperature check. He added that Hawaii is working with CVS and others to stand up a system to access traveler testing results to ensure they’re legitimate, but the details are still being hammered out. At the news conference, House Speaker Scott Saiki also said lawmakers have set aside $90 million for thermal screening machines at airports, a web-based traveler information system and supplies.