For visitors and returning residents, navigating traveler testing rules is complicated

Changes to pre-travel testing program spurs confusion

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - A recent change to Hawaii’s pre-travel testing program and a shortage of COVID-19 tests on the mainland amid the continued surge in cases is causing headaches for would-be visitors and residents trying to return home.

“It’s very stressful,” said Lauren Bartels, of Waikele. “If I had a chance to do it again, I wouldn’t fly.”

Susan Lincoln, of Maui, said finding a trusted partner and getting results in time for your flight isn’t only a challenge in the mainland but in Hawaii as well.

“I did the test here and I couldn’t get my results and I had to call them and call them so I could get my documents,” said Lincoln.

“So, I thought that’s kind of weird, we’re the state that wants it done, but we’re the ones that aren’t managing it very well.”

On Tuesday, the governor’s new rule went into effect, mandating travelers have their negative test results before boarding a plane for Hawaii. If results are not in by then, travelers will have to quarantine for 14 days.

Lincoln felt tightened restrictions should have been implemented from the very beginning.

“Now it’s like we’re playing catch up that’s always the hardest thing to do,” said Lincoln.

But with some mainland colleges starting the holiday break early or switching to online classes because of spiking cases it’s leaving a flood of college students trying get tested for COVID before coming home.

Meanwhile, Kauai Mayor Derek Kawakami wants to temporarily opt out of the state’s pre-travel testing program following a string of new cases linked to travel.

He said the program is not working and too many infected travelers are arriving on Kauai, which has had 58 COVID cases since the safe travels program began on Oct. 15.

“In a short period of time, we had nearly double the amount of cases 48 of them are related to travel,” said Kawakami.

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