HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Visitors from Japan will soon be able to avoid quarantining upon arrival in Hawaii by participating in the state’s pre-travel COVID-19 testing program, state officials said Wednesday.
The program is scheduled to launch Thursday for visitors from the mainland U.S., as well as inter-island passengers flying between Oahu, Kauai and Maui County. An official start date for Japanese visitors to participate in the program was not immediately announced.
Making it easier for Japanese visitors to return to Hawaii will likely serve as another shot in the arm for the state’s struggling tourism industry.
Last year, more visitors flew to Hawaii from Japan ― and spent more money while they were here ― than from any other destination besides the mainland U.S., according to the Hawaii Tourism Authority.
Prior to Wednesday’s announcement, an agreement with the Japanese government had been hung up on while the state Department of Health worked to approve the specific coronavirus test that is being used by Japan’s Ministry of Health.
That approval was granted Wednesday, which will allow Japanese visitors to submit negative results from that specific COVID-19 test within 72 hours of arrival in order to bypass the quarantine.
Hawaii’s Department of Health will still need to secure a list of testing partners in Japan before the pre-travel program can launch for Japanese visitors.
Visiting Hawaii won’t be completely without hurdles, the state says: Japanese nationals will still be subject to a 14-day quarantine upon their return to Japan.
And the agreement does not work both ways. Travel restrictions remain in place for any visitors from the U.S. attempting to travel into Japan.
This story will be updated.