Big Island Coronavirus Updates

House Committee Asks Governor to Rollback New Travel Requirement

December 1, 2020, 6:00 AM HST
* Updated November 30, 8:10 PM
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Governor David Ige. Courtesy photo

A Hawai‘i legislative committee has asked Governor David Ige to rollback a newly added requirement to the state’s Safe Travels Hawai‘i Program, which determines who must quarantine for 14 days upon arrival and who is exempt.

The House Select Committee on COVID-19 Economic and Financial Preparedness sent a proposal to the governor as well as all four county mayors to modify the program after Ige put in place a rule requiring a negative coronavirus test be returned before a traveler’s arrival to the state.

Researched and developed by the Strategy and Communications and Public Health subcommittees, the proposal recommends that the pre-travel testing program be modified to allow travelers who have diligently complied with the 72-hour pre-arrival testing requirement, but do not have a result in hand prior to their departure, be exempt from the self-quarantine requirement under two conditions:

  • They have a negative rapid test result completed upon arrival in Hawai‘i.
  • They produce a negative result from their original pre-travel test when received.

Tourism and business figures across the state expressed concern on the impact to tourism if those who were tested within 72 hours of travel but didn’t receive the results were made to quarantine without exception.

Others, like Kaua‘i Mayor Derek Kawakami, pushed for the governor to include the rule about having a returned COVID-19 test after a spike in cases on his island. Kawakami later requested, and received permission, to remove Kaua‘i from the Safe Travels Hawai‘i Program altogether. The agreement is said to be temporary.

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The report offered to Gov. Ige by the COVID-19 Committee states that the pre-arrival testing program has been an “unqualified success,” because it has protected residents from a health standpoint and has helped jumpstart a sagging economy. The report says that the ongoing uncontrolled surge of COVID-19 on the mainland “requires us to innovate to adapt the program to continue to keep us safe while continuing to support our local economy.”

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“So far, the program is working, and with a few enhancements, the committee believes it can be improved and some of the confusion about the program can be eliminated,” said House Speaker Scott Saiki.

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