HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Vaccinated trans-Pacific travelers will no longer have to take a second COVID-19 test after arriving on Hawaii Island as part of a pilot program.
“With the introductions of vaccines as an added layer of protection, we feel it is time to begin the return to normalcy, including reducing added pressures on our airlines, airports, kamaaina, and visitors,” Hawaii County Mayor Mitch Roth said, in a statement.
The pilot program started Thursday and will continue until May 1.
Hawaii Island has been requiring post-arrival tests since last year. But this new program comes after Hawaii County could not reach a deal with Premier Medical Group to continue the testing at Hilo and Kona airports.
County officials said they took over testing on April 1 due to a “steep increase in rates.”
Premier Medical Group is the company led by Dr. Scott Miscovich, who’s been leading large-scale testing at several sites across the state.
The county said it will be the first in the state to launch something like this under the Safe Travels program. But everyone will still need to show proof of a negative test result 72 hours before their flight.
“We assume that there will be a little bit of fraud here and there,” said Hawaii County spokesman Cyrus Johnasen. “Maybe somebody, one or two people, but a very low amount of residents or visitors coming in are gonna go out of there way to forge their card or skip our post-arrival testing program. It costs nothing and it might make you wait in line another 15 minutes, but I don’t think that’s enough for somebody to commit a federal crime because these are federal cards that are coming in.”
County officials intend to wean off of the post-arrival testing program completely — and said they look forward to further guidance from state leaders.