Hawaii’s pre-travel testing program becomes more official + United Airlines to pilot pre-flight testing

Well, it’s “official-er” that Hawaii’s new pre-travel testing program is set to begin October 15, 2020.  After a few delays, at least this time, the pre-travel testing program with a start date of October 15, 2020 has made its way into official state documentation. The pre-travel testing program was signed by Governor Ige yesterday, September 23, 2020, in a new supplemental proclamation. This new program allows visitors to be exempt from quarantine if they provide an approved, negative COVID-19 test result within 72 hours of their travel to Hawaii.

You can read the full document here. The sections related to travel are on pages six through eleven, plus Exhibit B.

One of the most important paragraphs for travelers by air to Hawaii is on page six, under the heading “B. Self Quarantine for Travelers to the State”

“… all persons entering the State of Hawai‘i shall be subject to mandatory self-quarantine as provided in the Travel Rules, except those persons entering the State … who, upon entry into the State, provide written confirmation from a State approved COVID-19 testing facility of a negative test result from a test administered to the traveler within 72 hours from the final leg of departure. The negative test exception shall become effective on October 15, 2020.”

Previously, it had been unclear that  the definition of the 72-hour period, but that statement clears it up, as it is the 72-hours prior to the final leg of departure. So, for example, in our case, we fly from RDU and typically connect in DFW on our way to Hawaii. (If you didn’t already know, we live in North Carolina.) The departure time of the DFW flight would be the end of our 72-hour window. Therefore, as we understand it, we would need to take into account the hour-difference in the timezone for when we would take our tests.

On pages nine and ten, the topic of “Enhanced Movement Quarantine” is addressed. That’s the “geo-fenced” or “resort bubble” concept that we’ve talked about in recent weeks. It appears that there may be a possibility of beach access, if allowed by the individual counties.

We encourage you to read through the three pages of Exhibit B of the proclamation, which is towards the end of the document. It outlines more aspects of the pre-travel testing program. Most of Exhibit B has already been provided in previous press conferences and previous articles, but it’s now made official in this new proclamation.

A final noteworthy section to highlight from the proclamation is on page five, under the heading of “Safe Practices.” It says,

“All persons must wear face coverings in compliance with county orders, rules and directives approved by me pursuant to Section I. All persons shall comply with applicable hygiene and physical distancing guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as well as State, county, industry and regulatory requirements for safe hygiene and physical distancing practices to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, including standards adopted by and requirements issued by Hawaii Department of Health (DOH).”

Today, United Airlines announced a pilot testing program. Passengers headed to Hawaii can take rapid tests at San Francisco International Airport (SFO.) Here’s an excerpt from their press release:

Starting on October 15, customers traveling on United from San Francisco International Airport (SFO) to Hawaii will have the option to take a rapid test at the airport or a self-collected, mail-in test ahead of their trip.

The rapid Abbott ID NOW COVID-19 test – administered by GoHealth Urgent Care and their partner Dignity Health – provides results in approximately 15 minutes and will be available to United customers on the same day as their flight departing from SFO. The mail-in test option will be administered by Color and it is recommended that customers initiate testing at least 10 days prior to their trip and provide their sample within 72 hours of their trip.

The airline worked closely with Hawaii officials to ensure that any United customer – both visitors and Hawaiian residents returning home – who tests negative on either test would not be subjected to the state’s current 14-day quarantine requirement. United currently offers more flights to Hawaii than any other major network carrier including daily service between San Francisco and Honolulu (HNL), Maui (OGG) and Kona (KOA). The carrier plans to increase service to Hawaii on October 15, including the resumption of service between San Francisco and Lihue (LIH) and additional flights between San Francisco and Maui and Kona.

See more details about the testing options in the press release.

So, that’s an interesting option for United passengers passing through SFO on their way to the Hawaiian Islands. We’ll be looking for more information on this alternative.

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