HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Gov. David Ige is urging residents to wear masks and practice social distancing as the state welcomes visitors back for the first time since March.
“Today is a big day for many people,” Ige said, speaking at a news conference.
But, he added, “the nature of the virus requires all of us to be vigilant.”
State officials have said more than 7,000 passengers are expected to arrive in the islands Thursday. That’s up from about 2,000 passengers day, but far lower than the 30,000 before the pandemic.
Lt. Gov. Josh Green said the pre-travel testing program’s launch day has gone well so far, and that most passengers appear to know what they need to do to avoid quarantine.
“We’re bringing back people through trans-Pacific travel very safely,” he said.
He added, “There could be some bumps along the way."
Under the program, incoming travelers who test negative for COVID-19 no more than 72 hours from departure for Hawaii are not required to quarantine for 14 days.
But the state is requiring that travelers get certain tests from certain trusted partners.
Those who don’t read the fine print risk having to quarantine even though they’ve been tested.
The governor said the program isn’t perfect, but provides strong safeguards to prevent an outbreak.
When asked whether the state has any trigger that would shut the program down, he said the Department of Health is considering that question.
He also said that the state learned a lot from the COVID-19 surge in July and August.
“I do believe we are prepared,” he said.
This story will be updated.