Senate Committee Requests Pre-Testing Pilot Program for Interisland Travel

September 8, 2020, 1:53 PM HST (Updated September 8, 2020, 1:53 PM)
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A Hawai‘i Senate Committee is calling for a program that would require coronavirus testing for those wishing to travel between the Hawaiian Islands.

Members of the Hawai‘i State Senate Special Committee on COVID-19 sent a letter to Gov. David Ige calling for neighbor island counties to serve as pilot program testing sites for exclusive travel between neighbor island counties —Kaua‘i to the Big Island, for example — with the possibility of including O‘ahu intrastate travel once the surge in cases subsides.

“This Pilot Project is a proactive measure that could yield important outcomes for our state while also providing a process for critical interisland travel during the pandemic,” the letter states. “As evidenced by the DOT [Hawai‘i Department of Transportation] Airport Quarantine process, these systems require time to initialize, pilot, and standardize so they can be scaled to peak capacity. The results yielded by the Pilot Program could provide valuable information that could be applied to an eventual trans-Pacific pre-test or bubble program, which would be a critical element to successfully reopening Hawai‘i’s economy.”

The letter, sent Sept. 3, requests a response from the governor by Tuesday, Sept. 8, at 4 p.m.

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At a June 18 special committee briefing, the Hawai‘i Department of Health outlined steps that would need to be taken by travelers seeing an exemption to the 14-day quarantine including:

  • Confirmation of a negative Nucleic Acid Amplification Test from a certified Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendment lab no more than 72 hours in advance of travel
  • Submission of electronic travel and health questionnaires
  • A pre-departure symptom screening
  • A post-arrival health screening
  • Appropriate social distancing measures taken throughout the travel experience, including masks being worn
  • Download of an optional location tracing app

The members of the special committee are Senators Donovan Dela Cruz, Jarrett Keohokalole, Michelle Kidani, Donna Mercado Kim, Sharon Moriwaki, and Kurt Fevella.

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