HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Starting Friday, travelers bound for Alaska will need to test negative for coronavirus within 72 hours of boarding the airplane.
They’ll be asked to provide the results when they land.
If they can’t, they’ll have two options: Get tested at the terminal or be quarantined for 14 days.
Lt. Gov. Josh Green says if the new policy works there’s a chance something similar could be implemented in Hawaii.
“Alaska is being very proactive. So if we can adopt some of the best practices that they have, it’s good,” he said. “Right now I’m still waiting on some of the details like how they’re going to get testing."
Green said he’s asked the Health Department and airport officials to reach out to Alaska for more information on how the program works.
Reopening air travel is urgent as Hawaii’s unemployment rate remains nearly the highest in the country.
Carl Bonham, the head of University of Hawaii’s Economic Research Center, said the economy is so bad it could trigger an exodus of residents from the state.
He predicts a minimum of 30,000 people will leave the state over the next year and a half in search of better opportunities.
“Many other state economies and county economies will recover much more rapidly and the job opportunities will simply not exist here that will exist in the rest of the economy,” Bonham said.
Once inter-island travel restrictions are lifted in Hawaii on June 16, Green estimates it will take another four to six weeks before the state is ready to welcome visitors from outside Hawaii.
He said the main focus of any new protocols to be centered around testing.
“The worse it is in on the mainland, the more serious we’re going to have to be about the screening," Green said. "The two things are linked at the hip.”
At a news conference Monday, the governor said he hopes to announce a date next week for when the trans-Pacific quarantine will be lifted. He’s previously said it will be extended beyond June 30.