After weeks of uncertainty and a number of delays, the state of Hawaii is set to welcome travelers from the mainland US. Beginning Oct. 15 visitors will be able to avoid the mandatory 14-day quarantine on arrival by taking part in a pre-travel testing program.
All the counties in the state will participate in the program, but the rules vary from county to county.
According to reports last week, officials on the Big Island of Hawaiʻi had initially opted out of the pre-travel testing program. However now island authorities have established a requirement for all arriving transpacific travelers who are participating in the pre-travel testing program to take an antigen test upon arrival.
Visitors Kauaʻi County can take part in a voluntary testing program the third day after arrival, while Maui County has set up a voluntary post-arrival test. The City and County of Honolulu says it is looking into whether it has the capacity to conduct post-arrival testing
At a press conference outlining the plans, Gov. David Ige said, “We’re looking forward to launching pre-travel testing on Thursday, because it’s a reflection of the progress we’ve made in managing the pandemic to the point where we can begin taking greater steps to reviving our economy and strengthening our community.”
In addition to mainland travelers, the counties of Kauaʻi and Maui will also be participating in the pre-travel testing program for inter-island travel, the governor announced.
The Hawaii state health department has posted a “pre-travel testing flow chart,” available here, to help visitors understand the program. Steps include:
Fill out the state’s mandatory travel and health form on Safe Travels Digital Platform, which can be accessed here. This is best done at least 24 hours prior to arrival.
Travelers who want to bypass the 14-day mandatory quarantine must take an approved COVID-19 test within 72 hours prior to departure from the final leg of travel. This applies to everyone over the age of five.
The website says the test must be an NAAT test – no antigen or antibody tests – and must be done through one of the state’s 17 trusted testing partners. The page also lists airlines and airports which are participating in the program.
Travelers who test negative need to upload results on the Safe Travels Digital Platform, and will be exempt from quarantine (but still subject to any county regulations). Travelers who have not received results at the time of arrival will be required to quarantine until the results come back and are uploaded.
If the result comes back positive for COVID-19, the traveler and close contacts will be mandated to isolate for 14 days. If travelers develop symptoms “suggestive of COVID-19 at any time,” they are to quarantine and be tested immediately.