Governor says visitor pre-testing plan needed to reboot tourism is nearly finalized

Gov. David Ige discusses reopening for tourism amid rise in COVID-19 cases

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The governor says he’ll be making an announcement in “the next few days” on how the state intends to reopen tourism by requiring visitors to be tested for COVID-19 in order to avoid quarantine.

The plan has been in the works for weeks and is modeled after one already in place in Alaska.

In an interview with HNN’s Sunrise on Tuesday morning, Gov. David Ige noted that Alaska’s testing has hit some snags.

Those who opted to get tested upon arrival at the airport have encountered long lines and been required to quarantine until a negative test result comes in, something that was taking as many as five days.

Alaska has since said it’s made tweaks to the system to speed up the process.

Ige told HNN that the state is learning from Alaska’s mistakes ― “the problems and challenges they’ve done since they’ve implemented their pre-test program.”

A growing chorus of Hawaii businesses that rely on visitors have called on the governor to divulge his timeline for reopening tourism ― something they say they need in order to prepare to reopen.

Hotels, for example, need at least four to six weeks to call back employees and prepare rooms.

Meanwhile, the state’s mandatory 14-day quarantine for travelers continues through at least July and is likely to be extended. Ige said the quarantine “will be with us for a long time.”

“The virus activity all across the country is a concern for everyone here,” he said.

Also on Tuesday, Ige said that he expects Hawaii’s schools superintendent to make an announcement early next week on how campuses will reopen in the fall.

“Public education has been a challenge all across the country,” Ige said. “We will be establishing baseline criteria that all schools would have to meet.”

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