HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Members of the House Committee on COVID-19 are calling for Gov. David Ige to amend stricter pre-travel testing rules.
Beginning Tuesday, travelers who don’t have their test results before boarding a plane to Hawaii, need to quarantine for 14 days even if a negative result comes in later.
However, members of the House Committee on COVID-19 suggest the governor explore alternatives for those who do not get their test results in time like offering travelers the option to get quick results at the airport instead of quarantining for 14 days.
“If you did everything right, but through no fault of your own, this happened, then we have this for you, that would be a good compromise,” said President and CEO of HMSA, Mark Mugiishi.
“I mean, that’s already set up at Honolulu International Airport, we should use that mechanism to test people who may not have the result when they land,” said House Speaker Scott Saiki.
As of now, the mobile testing lab at the Daniel K. Inouye Airport can only help inter-island travelers avoid quarantine, but Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell says it could be used to help travelers caught in a bind.
“And perhaps if they’re willing to get a second test and pay for that second test, then maybe that would be a way to get out of this quandary,” said Caldwell.
The governor said about 44 travelers learned of a positive test result upon arrival and cases are still exploding on the mainland.
“So, if this in any way was a health risk, I would be the first at the door pounding on us to add more restrictions, but we’re talking about 44 people over 44 days,” said Mugiishi. “It’s one person a day coming that was positive, that is such an amazing win for this program.”
UH Economist Carl Bonham predicts that the rule could cost the state half-a-billion dollars in visitor spending because visitors will be worried about ruining their vacations.
“And so the problem is that the solution is potentially more damaging than the original problem,” said Bonham.
Governor Ige issued the proclamation imposing the new rule this afternoon and in doing so said in a statement, “We must take every precaution to ensure the safety of our community, and that our hospitals have the capacity to care for those in need of treatment.”