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Reports: Pre-Travel Testing Plan for Hawaii’s Big Island in Doubt

Citing a spike in COVID-19 cases, the mayor of the Big Island says his county may opt out, but alternate proposals are in the works

The State of Hawaii is scheduled to begin accepting travelers from the mainland US starting Oct. 15, provided they test negative for the coronavirus before departure. However, according to reports. Monday in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, Hawaii Island Mayor Harry Kim said the Big Island is opting out of the state’s pre-travel testing program.

The move would mean mainland visitors going to the Big Island still will be required to quarantine for 14 days.

A number of airlines,  including United, American, Alaska and Hawaiian Airlines, have set up pre-flight testing facilities at mainland gateways in San Francisco, Dallas Fort Worth and Seattle.

Just 10 days out from the start of the program on Oct. 5, Governor David Ige gave each county in the state the option to opt out of the pre-flight testing program. The island of Hawaii had recorded its highest daily count last week at 43 new infections, prompting Kim to say he was concerned enough about a surge in COVID-19 cases to postpone the restart of tourism.

“All of us want to open up our economy,” Kim told the Star-Advertiser. “I made a decision that the risk factor in regards to doing this at this time is not an acceptable risk as far as endangering Hawaii’s people.”

Subsequently in Tuesday’s Hawaii Tribune Herald, Kim is reportedly proposing a second or even third post-arrival test for incoming travelers.

Earlier Ige had rejected a post-travel testing proposal from Kauai Mayor Derek Kawakami, citing concerns about draining “the minimum amount of test kits available to the state of Hawaii.” However Kim said he hopes to demonstrate to the governor that he has assembled “a better and more sustainable supply chain” for the test kits.

Kim said he’s working on his own plan “as fast as I can” to submit to Ige before the end of the week.

Travelers to the state should note that intraisland travel restrictions for Kauai, Hawaii Island or Maui County remain in place until at least the end of October, according to the Hawaii Tourism Authority website.