LIHU‘E — Part of Gov. David Ige’s announcement to reopen August 1 included a point that travelers may bypass the state-mandated 14-day quarantine by showing proof of a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of landing.
Both Ige and Lieutenant Governor Josh Green talked of a partnership between the state and CVS Pharmacy.
The CVS Pharmacy Minute Clinic has over 1,400 testing locations in 32 states and Washington, D.C., offering zero cost coronavirus testing with rest results within a week, even at peak demand. CVS stipulates that one must be over 18 years old and a resident of that specific state to receive a test.
At a Monday press conference, a news reporter asked Ige how Hawai‘i residents returning home would receive the test. Ige acknowledged this testing requirement and suggested surveying travel and the risk involved with it rather than addressing the requirement.
“We are aware of that problem, but certainly when I was asked … I suggested that people not travel,” Ige said.
This is another barrier the state faces as it navigates reopening.
Yesterday, Kaua‘i Visitor Bureau Executive Director Sue Kanoho shared her insight to reopening the county during a webinar with the Kaua‘i Chamber of Commerce.
“Everybody’s concerned with the August 1 (reopening) date,” Kanoho said. “We are, too.”
Kanoho works with the Kaua‘i Emergency Management Agency and Mayor Derek Kawakami’s administration researching the most balanced ways to reopen by jump-starting the economy and keeping residents safe.
“We reevaluate it pretty much every day,” Kanoho said. The ever-changing situation makes announcing plans unfeasible. “I could have said something two weeks ago, it’s changing already.”
Prior to the pandemic, the island struggled with being inundated with tourists causing high traffic volumes in areas that lacked the infrastructure, whether that be roads or state parks.
Kanoho said this time without travelers can be used to restructure and implement new ideas that can be utilized in the future, like a travel shuttle and issuing park permits to non-residents.
In May, Kaua‘i had 571 Trans-Pacific visitors. This number doesn’t include the people who flew to O‘ahu first or inter-island visitors.
There are three direct flights from the West Coast, averaging between 30-50 people per flight, about half being returning residents. A mobile tracking system the state wanted to produce to track visitors has still not come to fruition, even nearly three weeks since kama‘aina travel has opened.
“We are at the bottom of the barrel of arrivals,” she said. “Even with opening August, if that’s going to happen, we’re not going to get it (tourists) in the droves.”
In the earlier phases of the pandemic, the tourism-geared committee of the Mayor’s Kaua‘i Economic Recovery Strategy Team suggested more protective screenings to ensure visitors were aware of quarantine rules as well as frequent check-ups.
Additionally, travelers are ushered through a roadblock at the Lihu‘e Airport with state National Guard members and Kaua‘i Police Department who explain the rules once again. With this, those who track quarantined visitors use a cross-checking process looking lists of visitors who have arrived from O‘ahu to Kaua‘i.
On Monday night, KPD officers arrested Texas resident Chris Coleman for violating the COVID-19 related rules, after checking into the Hilton Garden Inn. According to a preliminary investigation, on Monday, at approximately 9:30 p.m., Coleman requested that Hilton Garden Inn staff call a taxi for him. Hotel staff informed Coleman that they could not do that for him, and why. Coleman became belligerent with the staff, left his room and approached the hotel’s front desk employees demanding a taxi and making disparaging remarks toward them.
Kaua‘i police arrived at the hotel and Coleman was subsequently arrested for violating the COVID-19 quarantine requirement.
He is currently being held at cellblock on $1,000 bail and he could potentially face up to one year in prison and up to $5,000 in fines for violating the COVID-19 emergency rules.
Quarantine violations, like Coleman’s alleged actions, are a big concern for many Kaua‘i residents.
According to a Bank of Hawai‘i Foundation study conducted in May, about 44% of residents surveyed believed that it’ll take more than a year “for life to return to normal in Hawai‘i.”
“Everything keeps changing by the day,” Kanoho said.
Sabrina Bodon, public safety and government reporter, can be reached at 245-0441 or email@example.com.