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Maui County launches post-arrival COVID testing program for trans-Pacific travelers

Updated: May. 4, 2021 at 5:21 PM HST
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KAHULUI, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Maui County launched its mandatory post-arrival COVID testing program for trans-Pacific travelers Tuesday.

Officials are calling this a “soft launch.”

“I don’t mind getting tested. It’s easy. It’s quick. As long as I don’t have to pay for it, no problem,” said Montana visitor Leia Behunin.

Behunin was the first visitor to take the county’s post-arrival test.

The tests are paid for by the county.

Anyone traveling from the mainland will have to take the test unless they can prove they’re fully vaccinated.

“If it makes the island people feel more safe with all the tourists coming in, I think it’s necessary,” said Josephine Law, who is visiting from Los Angeles.

Those who refuse to take the test at Kahului Airport will have to quarantine for 10 days.

Fully vaccinated trans-Pacific travelers with valid vaccination cards can skip the test.

“It’s really good for all the travelers and people who live here. Safety is first. I feel safe,” said Divya Stampwala, who is visiting from California.

Dr. Alan Wu, with Doctors of Waikiki, said it’s an incentive for people to get vaccinated.

He said a second coronavirus test is necessary because the chance of travelers contracting COVID after their pre-travel test is still about 1%.

For 5,000 travelers, that translates to 50 people who are COVID-positive.

“Fifty is a lot of people,” Wu said.

Travelers should fill out a form online ahead of time.

Last month, Mayor Mike Victorino said the secondary test is to determine if visitors are contributing to the spike of COVID infections on island. However, some visitors said having a secondary post-arrival test will take another toll on the island’s already crippled tourism industry.

Meanwhile, the so-called vaccine passport program for inter-island travel is expected to start next week.

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