The plan for testing visitors is still murky, but bookings are already coming in
HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Visitors are booking vacations to Hawaii in August ― when changes to the 14-day quarantine go into effect ― even without a clear state plan being released.
Starting Aug. 1, travelers will be able to avoid quarantine if they test negative for COVID-19 within 72 hours of landing in the islands. But the state said they’re still hammering out the details of the plan.
At a briefing Monday, some lawmakers expressed concern that the visitors wouldn’t be able to get tests but would come to the islands anyway.
The concern comes as new coronavirus cases are spiking in some mainland cities, including Las Vegas. On Monday, Clark County recorded a record 697 new cases and four additional deaths.
Tests may be difficult to get in areas where infections are surging and travelers won’t be a high priority.
“You’re hearing about the delays getting tests on the mainland, three to five day delays that sometimes might occur,” said State Rep. Della Au Belatti.
“I just hope that there’s a lot of communication going around for both people coming to visit us and also returning residents.”
But some worry that communication isn’t happening.
“The reason that it’s extremely important is that we’ve got travelers booking reservations now,” said Wendy Laros, of the Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce, “We need to really know what’s going on: the tourism, the visitor industry needs to know, the travelers need to know.”
State Rep. Richard Onishi also expressed concern about educating everyone involved.
“We need a strong and robust communication plan if we’re going to be moving forward with allowing people to come from overseas, but there’s been no funds allocated to help support that communication effort,” Onishi said.
Raymond Vara, CEO of Hawaii Pacific Health, said the state is working with pharmacies and health care officials across the country to ensure tests for those planning to visit.
“We are aware of the potential challenges with the 72-hour timing of testing,” he said. “We are in discussions with both CVS and other organizations around the nation.”
Chris Tatum, CEO of the Hawaii Tourism Authority, promised more details soon.
“The processes to confirm how they get the test, where they get the test, what tests will be approved, that will all be coming out in the near future,” he said.
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