Today is the first day of the state’s pre-travel testing program that allows incoming trans-Pacific passengers to bypass the state’s 14-day quarantine if they have a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of their Hawaii-bound flight.
It’s also the first day for the Big Island’s post-travel testing program, which is required for trans-Pacific passengers to bypass the 14-day quarantine on the island. Hawaii County Civil Defense, working with numerous other agencies and outside contractors, will administer the tests to all passengers coming from outside the state, whether on an inter-island plane or a direct-from-the-mainland flight. The testing will be done right at the airports in Kona, Hilo, and Waimea. Passengers arriving on private jets will be subject to the same testing.
Those who test negative at the airport rapid test–results in 15 minutes–may avoid quarantine. Those who test positive at the airport will be referred to State Department of Health for the gold-standard PCR test, the deep nasal swab test. Those who are still waiting for their pre-travel test results will have to quarantine until those negative results come in.
If somebody coming into the airport is positive from the quick test and has the PCR test, while awaiting results, they must be in quarantine.
The Mayor’s proclamation says that only hotels may be used as quarantine sites, not short term vacation rentals nor B&Bs.
Mayor Harry Kim said in a Hawaii County Council meeting on Wednesday that anybody who refuses the test after landing will be subject to arrest.
Kim said the cost of the program is from $3.5 million in Federal CARES Funds. He said the rapid tests are being administered by Premier Medical Group. The Mayor said the Premier Medical Group CEO, Dr. Scott Miscovich, has promised an unlimited supply of tests.
The 14-day quarantine for all interisland travelers, residents of the State in general, is still in effect.
Those request exemptions to the quarantine because they are critical infrastructure workers may request an exemption from the state at travelexemption.hawaii.gov. For Hawaii County exemptions for medical or critical infrastructure reasons, requests must be submitted 5 days in advance by clicking here.
On Wednesday Gov. Ige announced approval of a similar 72-hour pre-test travel quarantine waiver for passengers from Japan, but as yet has not confirmed details about which test results from Japan will be acceptable.
Photo courtesy United Airlines of a passenger being pre-tested at San Francisco Airport.