Kauai to again allow inter-island passengers to utilize Safe Travels testing program

Mayor Derek Kawakami is proposing stricter rules for travelers arriving on Kauai.
Mayor Derek Kawakami is proposing stricter rules for travelers arriving on Kauai.(County of Kauai/file)
Updated: Dec. 31, 2020 at 3:51 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Kauai County officials said Wednesday that they were rescinding a temporary rule that prevented inter-island passengers traveling to Kauai from participating in the state’s pre-travel testing program.

The request was approved by Gov. David Ige Thursday afternoon. It means that Hawaii residents could once again take inter-island flights to Kauai without having to quarantine, provided they supplied proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of departure.

“This proposal will allow Kauaʻi to move forward with limited tourism in ‘resort bubbles’ while honoring the county’s request to opt-out of the Safe Travels pre-travel testing program,” said Gov. David Ige.

Late last month, Mayor Derek Kawakami asked Gov. Ige to allow Kauai County to temporarily opt-out of the Safe Travels program, citing the rise in COVID-19 cases on other islands and the U.S. mainland.

Wednesday’s announced rule change will not apply to trans-Pacific travelers, who will still need to quarantine for 10 days regardless of whether they provide a negative COVID-19 test.

“The rate of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths on the mainland continues to increase, with the number of cases this month nearly double the rate in November,” said Dr. Janet Berreman, M.D., the Kauai District Health Officer, in a statement. “Unfortunately, it is just not safe at this time to allow transpacific travel to Kauai without additional safeguards – we hope that will change soon.”

County officials say that it is ‘not yet known when Kauai’s moratorium on the Safe Travels program will end for Transpacific travelers.’

Only 10 coronavirus cases have been reported on Kauai over the last two weeks, by far the fewest number on an island statewide. During the same time period, 126 cases have been reported on Hawaii Island, 206 have been reported on Maui, and a whopping 1,236 were logged on Oahu.

The state’s pre-travel testing program currently remains in place for the rest of the state.

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