Lt. Gov. Green’s October 1st press conference discussing Hawaii’s new COVID-19 pre-travel testing program
We’ve watched and rewatched Lieutenant Governor Green’s October 1st press conference outlining details of Hawaii’s COVID-19 pre-travel testing program. We’ve summarized the press conference below. Welcome to bullet point city!
The lieutenant governor described the content of his press conference as “…the basic, rock-solid information of what it will look like come October 15th.” Some of the information, you probably already know, but some of it is new information.
Hawaii’s pre-travel test plan, in order for visitors to be exempt from quarantine, will work as follows:
- Starts Thursday, October 15, 2020
- For inbound passengers from the U.S. Mainland only at the start. International passengers will be addressed later.
- Tests must be FDA Authorized Nucleic Acid Amplification Test (NAAT) from a certified CLIA Lab. No antibody or antigen tests will be accepted at this time.
- The test can be taken no earlier than 72 hours before the departure of the last leg of the traveler’s flight itinerary. Hawaii will be accommodating to travelers with air travel delays that are out of the traveler’s control.
- Children ages four and under will not be required to be tested. Therefore, children ages five and up must be tested.
- The test result must be negative to be exempt from the 14-day quarantine. (If the test result is positive, the person should not travel. Green noted the person should defer their travel, reschedule or get a refund. He also noted that that the airlines have been generous in theses circumstances when people are sick.)
ADDED STIPULATION AFTER THIS PRESS CONFERENCE:
- Pre-travel testing must be done by an approved testing partner. Check hawaiicovid19.com/travel for the list of approved partners.
Here’s how travel to Hawaii is designed with the new procedures and assuming everything works as planned:
- After booking travel to Hawaii, all persons ages 18 and up must register their travel plans at https://travel.hawaii.gov. (This is the Safe Travels form.)
- No earlier than 72 hours before departure time of the final leg, all persons ages five and up must get tested by the approved method.
- Within 24 hours before travel, travelers must log into their Safe Travels account and complete the Travel Health Questionnaire. Then a QR code will be provided by the system.
- Assuming the traveler receives a negative test result before arrival, the person uploads their result into their Safe Travels account. Per https://hawaiicovid19.com/travel/ travelers are asked to maintain proof of their negative test results.
- In Hawaii, all visitors are to wear a mask and socially distance.
See this flowchart for all of the options.
Of course, there are several more “what if” scenarios through the new procedures. The important ones to highlight are:
- If a visitor does not receive their test result by the time they arrive in Hawaii, they must quarantine in a hotel or motel until they receive a negative test result. When they do receive a negative test result, they are to upload it into their Safe Travels account.
- If a traveler receives a positive test result after arrival, they must quarantine for the full duration of their disease.
- If a traveler does not pre-travel test, they must quarantine for 14 days.
As far as trusted testing partners, the lieutenant governor provided these details and insights.
- Walgreens, CVS and Kaiser are all approved testing partners. The cost of the test is the responsibility of the traveler. Green indicated that Kaiser has said they will offer testing for their members at no cost. Check https://hawaiicovid19.com/travel/ for the approved list of testing partners.
- As the start of testing will not be relevant until October 12th, the testing partners may not have much if any information currently offered on their websites or storefronts until closer to the time when tests can be taken.
- For travelers with children ages five years and up, they will need to check with testing partners for any age restrictions. It appears that some testing partners may test children ages seven and older.
- Eventually, https://hawaiicovid19.com/travel will be uploaded with a matrix of testing partners and age requirements.
- There will be test-at-home partners with mail-in testing, but the process of obtaining the test sample must be observed via telehealth.
- Some airlines have announced testing options available from a handful of major U.S. cities. These testing options are approved for travel to Hawaii. Some of these options may include mail-in testing, drive-through testing, same-day testing. Some testing may take place in the vicinity of the airport or at the airport. More testing options/locations/airline options are expected in the future. Here’s what’s been announced so far:
- United Airlines – link to their press release
- Hawaiian Airlines – link to their press release
- Southwest Airlines
- American Airlines – link to their press release. Note that this option was not mentioned in a subsequent press conference as approved yet.
- Alaska Airlines – link to their press release. Note that this option was not mentioned in a subsequent press conference as approved yet.
- Check https://hawaiicovid19.com/travel/ for the approved list of testing partners.
Other interesting information that was shared in the press conference about reopening tourism are:
- At the start, at best, Hawaii is only expecting 5,000 to 8,000 visitors arriving per day. Note that this is down from 30,000 to 35,000 prior to COVID-19.
- The lieutenant governor estimates that perhaps one in a thousand arrivals may actually have COVID-19 that was not found in the testing and screening process.
- A voluntary, second test may be offered to visitors once they are in Hawaii. This test will be used to verify that the systems are limiting the virus from being brought in by visitors. This thought/plan is under development.
- The lieutenant governor hinted that some of the islands may adopt further requirements. The island/county mayors and the governor are currently discussing this issue. (See our explanation of how the island counties are organized.) This is the current wildcard in the matter.
- Multi-island travel may become complicated, especially if the partially re-instated, inter-island quarantine is still in place. See this link for inter-island quarantine requirements.
We encourage you to watch and listen to the October 1st press conference for yourself. With thanks to Hawaii News Now, we’ve embedded the press conference video:
Note that all the information contained in this article is accurate at the time of publishing on October 2, 2020. Many aspects are very much subject to change.
Yet another, “larger” press conference is planned for Tuesday, October 6th.
For further explanation of the above information as well as other questions, you may have, please read through the many questions and answers at https://hawaiicovid19.com/travel.
You are correct that requirements of other islands is key. Right now they are suggesting a second test upon arrival with 72 hour quarantine. While I understand the thought process behind this, It will be a deal breaker for mot including me.
It’s concerning that we’re less than two weeks away from the start of the program and that the mayors and governor and who ever else is involved have not sorted out the plans.
We have booked to travel to Oahu and Kona for 9 days starting Oct 15th, but the lack of final decisions and inconsistency between islands may be a deal-breaker. We want a two-island trip and the current inability to do that in a reasonable way will cause us to cancel. We’re also challenged by County of Honolulu keeping short-term rentals closed, while the other islands allow them. Our favorite stay on Oahu is a short-term rental that’s been operating since the 1950’s. We may well be a last-minute cancellation if these issues aren’t addressed very soon.
We don’t know if the inter-island quarantine will be in place October 15th or not. If the inter-island quarantine is the same October 15th as it is today, anyone staying/visiting on Oahu will have to quarantine for 14 days on any of the other islands.
Like Jon said, dealbreaker. Who would come if you had to spend a sizeable amount of your time in a quarantine situation in a facility (hotel or other) of the states determination. The spread issue on Hawaii so far has mostly been related to a collection of residents that refused to adhere to social distancing rules.
I just read your analysis. Thank you.
I compliment the Lt Governor for his efforts and resolving so many issues.
Yesterday, I listened, online, to the Mayors of Maui and Kauai who proposed
that ,although tourists were tested before they arrived in Hawaii ,the mayors wanted a second test 3 days after arrival, and that the tourists would have a mandatory quarantine in a hotel/motel until they received negative results . The Lt. Governor stated that a 2nd test, conducted in Hawaii, would deter tourists and not be done. A second test is a deal breaker for me too..That’s a loss of at least 3 paid days of vacation while you are locked in a room. I will follow this to see if it changes.I was happy to hear that the Lt. Governor understood the inconvenience of a second test.
Also, one other issue which I have addressed recently with some Hawaii sites is regarding tracking and tracing, but have not received an answer yet .
My question: If you properly test negative before you depart, then, after landing in Hawaii it is later discovered that someone on your flight was found to have covid19, will the trackers and tracers for the State contact you and mandate quarantine. If that is done, that would be another deal breaker for me.
In addition, I cannot imagine anyone planning a wedding, business meeting, or traveling to Hawaii for an important event, or vacation with the possibility of quarantine.
For those renting a condo this would become an additional burden in that you would have to leave your paid , nonrefundable condo and somehow have your vehicle moved from the condo property back to the rental agency, and also pay for new unwanted accommodations, and the paid rental vehicle which is useless to a quarantined person.
( Some insurance companies that I have researched do not cover quarantine, nor will it cover a positive test unless a medical professional deems that you are ill. )
If the mayors want tourists to take a second test 3 days later, while confined to specific hotels, wouldn’t they also have to apply the same rule to returning residents?
It seems that there is more risk of a returning resident, potentially infected, sharing a living space and spreading an infection to others within their household not under a quarantine rule. I’m no lawyer, but it seems there might a legal argument involved towards this.
Unfortunately I’ve decided at this point to postpone my plans. I was hoping to visit Oahu for a week followed by Kona. My usual holiday next May. From what I’m reading I would have to connect flights through the mainland US (I could but would prefer otherwise), Test prior to arrival, test again after a few days of quarantine then it’s sounding like another test and another possible quarantine when travelling between islands. Then as mentioned there are the strong possibility of contact tracing quarantines.
I respect Hawaii’s wishes, it just sounds like too much for me considering it is multiplied for every member of the family, an appointment for each of us and several quarantines. The logistics just are too much.
Perhaps once a vaccine is readily available and distributed the travel restrictions will be relaxed. I’m hoping possibly next fall now for myself. It’s probably good anyways, it will make the return to Hawaii travel much more gradual and much less chance of nightmare situations.
Pre-flight testing-$125 each, losing money on your rental accommodations and then having to pay 4 nights in a quarantine hotel which you can’t leave even to eat, then re/tested??? Guess many tourists will be opting out of a Maui vacation for the foreseeable future
Preflight testing $125 each at CVS, additional cost for 3 nights in a hotel quarantine plus loss of original accommodations cost for those nights. No access to eating meals unless delivered. Re test again Not worth the aggravation and expense. Guess I’ll be canceling my February trip if it doesn’t change. Bummer!