Tighter COVID-19 rules now in effect for all trans-Pacific travelers to Hawaii

Updated: Nov. 24, 2020 at 10:20 AM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Incoming trans-Pacific travelers now need to have a negative COVID-19 test result before departure for Hawaii if they want to skip quarantine.

The rule change took effect Tuesday and does not affect inter-island travel.

Previously, travelers could come with pending results and then get out of quarantine once they provide a negative test result. But the governor changed the rule over fears too many with pending results were testing positive for the virus.

The change is drawing concern, however.

Sheri Fletcher, a show owner on Maui, canceled her Thanksgiving plans to visit family in California. She said she didn’t know if she would get results back in time.

“We’re just we’re running into some roadblocks,” Fletcher said. “My husband and I decided not to go. We can’t find anyone in Northern California that will guarantee they can turn a test around in 72 hours.”

She said she couldn’t risk not being at her business if she needed to stay in quarantine.

Quest Diagnostics even suspended its participation in the Hawaii pre-travel testing program over the weekend because of high testing demand.

Some county mayors have been advocating for the rule change after dozens of travelers arrived in Hawaii and found they were positive after landing.

But some lawmakers, businesses and airlines have asked the governor for more flexibility and suggested he explore alternatives, like offering travelers the option to get quick results at the airport instead of quarantining for 14 days.

As of now, the mobile testing lab at the Daniel K. Inouye Airport can only help inter-island travelers avoid quarantine. Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell says it could be used to help travelers caught in a bind.

This story may be updated.

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