When travel to Hawaii reopens, will COVID-19 testing of visitors be required?

Now that the daily number of COVID-19 cases is in the single digits and once even at 0, Hawaii’s government has started its first phase of opening some parks and retail shops for local residents. Restaurants are still closed for dine-in service. Salons are also closed. So, there’s still a ways to go for the Hawaii economy to open up to the state’s residents.

Reopening Hawaii’s travel industry remains a major unknown in terms of when and how it will open.

The Star-Advertiser hosted a Q&A with Hawaii’s Lieutenant Governor, Josh Green, on May 8th. In this Q&A, he shares a vision for the process to reopen tourism. He described the following policy which is being favored right now:

Incoming visitors would have to test negative for COVID-19 prior to vacationing in Hawaii. Here’s how it might work:

    • Ideally, visitors would go to a national mainland pharmacy, for example CVS, for a test just prior to their vacation. The test results would either be entered and accessed through a database or with a document in “domestic customs” upon arrival in Hawaii.
    • If the visitor didn’t get a test prior to their flight, they would have to be tested at the airport in Hawaii. This process could take several hours. The visitor could possibly have to go into quarantine for a day, until their result indicates negative for COVID-19.

Lieutenant Governor Green also indicated another factor that is important for reopening Hawaii for visitors. He said that they will be watching the COVID-19 rates from the US Mainland, which is Hawaii’s largest visitor market by far. If the rates are low, they shouldn’t have much trouble opening tourism.

You can watch and listen to the Q&A in the embedded video. Note that the talk about tourism starts at around the 11-minute mark.

So, that’s what one of Hawaii’s top government officials is favoring. Will this proposed policy be the one that is implemented? We will have to wait and see.

When could tourism be reopened? That’s a big question for now! If what the lieutenant governor described is implemented, the processes, equipment and logistics of setting up the testing is not something that can quickly be put in place.

We’ll continue to monitor the situation and report to you when there are further indicators of reopening tourism in Hawaii.

For now, just as a reminder, the 14-day mandatory quarantine (described here) is still in place. The current 14-day quarantine order is in effect through May 31, 2020, but according to KITV, officials are already saying that it is likely that the order will be pushed back to a further date.  This is not a time to be visiting Hawaii.

What do you think of the proposed policy?

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