City says at-home rapid tests can be used for entry to restaurants, gyms

As the city gives away free at home rapid COVID tests, restaurants and other high risk businesses are allowed to use them for their patrons and workers.
Published: Oct. 1, 2021 at 4:48 PM HST|Updated: Oct. 1, 2021 at 7:23 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - At-home rapid COVID tests ― like the ones the city is giving away ― can be used for patrons or workers at restaurants, gyms and other businesses.

But they’re not allowed for other government mandates.

QuickVue at-home rapid test kits have two separate tests inside and sell online for about $25 a box, but the Honolulu Fire Department is giving them away for free.

At Aloha Stadium and other locations, each drive-thru customer is getting a bag full of kits.

At home, it’s a 10-step process where you swab your nostrils, swish the swab into a test solution in a small vial and then you dip the testing strip into the solution. Rapid results are ready in 10 minutes.

The city says if you are not vaccinated, results from at-home antigen tests are OK to use to get into restaurants and other businesses.

And that decision has eateries celebrating.

“The fact that they did that is making it so much easier for restaurants and employees to be able to get that test so they can work,” said Greg Maples, chair of the Hawaii Restaurant Association and vice president of Food and Beverage at Polynesian Cultural Association.

He says roughly 100 customers show up each day without a vaccine card or test result so providing rapid testing through Nomi Health on-site is a win-win and helps avoid anger over mandates.

“It allows for us to diffuse any possible situation when someone may show up and say, ‘Gosh I didn’t even know about the mandate,’” said Maples.

Ryan Tanaka, co-owner of Giovanni Pastrami, says 91% of their workers are vaccinated, but it bought 300 BinaxNow rapid antigen tests for the handful of employees who need testing and for any customers as well. So far, no customers have needed a rapid test.

“We realized antigen tests were allowed and we thought there was going to be a huge demand for antigen tests so we connected with one of partners,” said Tanaka.

At-home rapid rests are not allowed for mandated testing of government employees or to get into a state building, however.

“When you take that home test kit, you don’t have a document that shows that you tested negative,” said Brooks Baehr, spokesman for Department of Health.

For information on where to get a free at-home test, click here.

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