Hawaii County starts allowing tested inter-island travelers to skip quarantine

Hawaii County starts allowing tested inter-island travelers to skip quarantine
Kumu hula Rich Pedrina says he's excited about traveling to the Big Island for the first time since August. (Source: Hawaii News Now)

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Big Island is now allowing inter-island travelers to skip quarantine if they present a negative COVID-19 test, just like the other Neighbor Islands.

The change has many excited.

In Honolulu, kumu hula Rich Pedrina is getting ready for his first flight in months. “I’m ready to go. I’m excited. It’s such a different feeling because I’m so use to getting on a plane every week,” he said.

Since the August lockdown, he’s has been anxiously waiting to go to his other home to teach hula in Hilo. But the two-week quarantine kept him in Honolulu.

During the pandemic, he’s converted his Papakolea carport into an outdoor hula studio and also turned his living room into an on camera set for zoom.

Last Thursday, he watched as the state reopened to tourists and other trans-Pacific travelers.

Like others, he felt it was unfair that residents couldn’t forgo quarantine while tourists could.

“I was frustrated. I was actually tearing up because I was so frustrated because here we are taking care of our people making sure our kupuna are safe,” he said.

But on Tuesday, official word came that Hawaii County would start allowing residents to participate in the testing program. Residents can take a pre-arrival test or one after arrival from a trusted partner.

“I was ecstatic. First thing I did was started making my reservations,” said Pedrina.

Jerry Agrusa, a University of Hawaii Travel Industry Management professor, says it’s good that every island has testing options to avoid quarantine.

“One of the most significant things is that it makes it consistent across all islands. You know not everyone understands we are a series of islands,” he said.

As for Pedrina, he booked a $130 COVID-19 test through CVS on Thursday.

If all goes well, he’s set to fly out Sunday.

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