Green: Pre-travel testing program will help get thousands of people back to work

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Updated: Sep. 18, 2020 at 10:05 AM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - A day after announcing the launch of a testing program on Oct. 15 for trans-Pacific travelers, the governor said he is working with county leaders on inter-island travel.

An inter-island quarantine continues through at least Sept. 30, but is expected to be extended.

Gov. David Ige said he is looking at a number of different options for inter-island travelers, including extending the testing program to those seeking to travel inter-island without having to quarantine for 14 days.

Under the program announced Wednesday, trans-Pacific travelers will be able to present a negative COVID-19 test upon arrival in order to avoid the quarantine.

But there’s not yet a similar plan for inter-island travel.

Lt. Gov. Josh Green said the pre-travel testing program will help get tens of thousands of visitor industry workers back on the job with only minor hassles for trans-Pacific travelers.

Green, who is heading the program, said the tests will be available at any CVS drug store and Kaiser Permanente, which will pay for tests for its members. It also will soon be available at Walgreens, he said. That would make the tests available throughout most of the country.

Some airlines may also participate. “I think you’ll realize a lot of the airlines will be in the testing business as well as the flying business,” said Green.

The companies working with the state must provide results in two to four days.

“This does not have a lot of cost to the state of Hawaii only that we have personnel at the airport checking to make sure the paperwork is right,” he said.

But some in the industry think it will take much longer to get results due to the backlog in testing on the mainland.

“But the tests are taking a week to come back with the results. So it’s kind of like how do you do that?" said Eric Gill, financial secretary for UNITE HERE Local 5, which represents about 9,000 hotel workers.

If the test is delayed, the traveler will have to wait in quarantine for the results, Green said.

“The sensible guys are going to advance clearance. They will get their cue codes in advance, they’ll make sure everything is in order. We’ll have expedited lines,” Green said.

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