HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Starting Tuesday, incoming trans-Pacific travelers will need to have a negative COVID-19 test result in hand before departure for Hawaii if they want to bypass quarantine. If they don’t have the results, they’ll have to self-isolate for up to 14 days.
The governor announced the change in a news conference Thursday.
He said it was necessary to prevent a surge in COVID-19 infections in Hawaii ― and acknowledged requiring a result before departure could cause some travelers to reschedule their travel.
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“We’re adding this safety precaution now in response to the dramatically increasing number of COVID-19 cases in the continental United State and abroad,” Ige said, in the news conference.
“We have to close the gap to ensure everyone’s safety.”
In the past, if your results didn’t come in by the time you landed in Hawaii you had to quarantine only until the negative result came in and was verified.
Now that’s no longer a possibility.
And while the Hawaii Tourism Authority supported the tighter restrictions, at least one airline is speaking out against the change.
Hawaiian Airlines said not giving some leeway to passengers will deter many from coming.
“We continue to believe there should be consideration shown for those travelers who do the right thing and – by no fault of their own – do not receive their test results in time,” the airline said, in a statement.
“This new restriction will create even more uncertainty for travelers and serve as a deterrent to the right kind of visitors to our state ― those with the intention of testing prior to travel.”
Since Hawaii’s pre-travel testing program launched a month ago, at least 44 travelers have arrived in the islands with pending test results and later found out they were positive for COVID-19.
The governor said that number is small but worrisome.
Lt. Gov. Josh Green said about 6% of incoming trans-Pacific travelers had either not received their test results before departing for Hawaii or had not uploaded them to the state’s Safe Travels website.
Travelers must take their COVID-19 test no more than 72 hours before departure.
Meanwhile on Thursday, the governor announced that the pre-travel testing program would be expanded to Canadians. In addition to travelers from the US mainland, the program had previously been opened to Japanese visitors. Hawaii officials are also hoping to open travel to South Korea.
This story will be updated.