LIHU‘E — The state officially reopens tomorrow, and Gov. Ige has approved Mayor Derek Kawakami’s four-tier program as well as a pre-travel testing option for interisland travelers.
“Inconsistency leads to confusion,” Kawakami said. “Right now, there is a lot of confusion on the protocols for trans-Pacific versus interisland travel, and various testing options. Travelers are also confused on whether they must follow the state or counties’ protocols and at this point, we need consistency and equity. This new rule brings fairness to local families who travel interisland to visit family, see doctors, and get necessary supplies. We know that interisland travel is not just for leisure, but necessity.”
Similar to the trans-Pacific pre-test system that will allow travelers to bypass the 14-day quarantine with a negative U.S. Food and Drug Administration-authorized Nucleic Acid Amplification Test (NAAT)/PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test one of 17 state-partnered organizations including airlines and health care systems within 72 hours of arrival in the state, this plan will allow interisland travelers to skip the quarantine.
All the counties will participate in the pre-testing program for trans-Pacific travelers.
“We are looking forward to launching the pre-travel testing program on Thursday because it’s a reflection of the progress we have made in managing the pandemic to the point where we can begin to take greater steps to revive our economy and strengthen our communities,” Gov. David Ige said at a news conference Tuesday.
In the next two to four weeks, airline partners are expecting about 2,000-3,000 new arrivals daily, Ige said.
Travelers, residents and visitors, must register their flight and test information through the state’s Safe Travel program, “which we believe is the most advanced in our nation,” Ige said.
Kawakami said the county has “been assured that the Safe Travels App can accommodate interisland travelers, and we understand the state is working with their trusted testing travel partners to offer testing to local residents.”
“Based on that information, we are going to take the state up on their offer to include interisland travelers in the state’s Safe Travels program,” he said. “That means interisland travelers who take a pre-travel test within 72 hours of traveling to Kaua‘i, and pass with a negative result, would be exempt from the 14-day quarantine.”
Both interisland and trans-Pacific travelers will need to adhere to Kaua‘i’s four-tier program that establishes when certain activities and businesses may operate and builds in an opt-out to the pre-test quarantine bypass that was approved Tuesday.
Tier 4 is designated by less than two daily active cases, where the county currently stands. Allowed on this level are nearly all businesses and activities with minimal restrictions. On this tier, the 72-hour, pre-travel test program is in effect for all visitors.
Tier 3 would be in effect when a weekly average of two to four daily COVID-19 cases occurs. Trans-Pacific travelers can still test out of the quarantine, but restrictions on gatherings would go into effect.
At Tier 2, the county will opt out of the pre-travel testing program, and the two-week quarantine will be required for all travelers. This will be triggered when the county hits one-week average of daily COVID-19 cases between five to eight.
The most restrictive step, Tier 1, would go into effect when there’s a one-week average of eight or more cases per day registered on the island. Here, no pre-testing quarantine exemptions will be allowed.
The islands of Kaua‘i, Hawai‘i and Maui will also offer voluntary post-arrive testing for trans-Pacific travelers, as well.
Kaua‘i has a reserve of 15,000 rapid, same-day, COVID-19 tests purchased using $1 million of federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funds that will be utilized on travelers three days after arrival. The county is working with the local visitors’ bureau and the Chamber of Commerce to develop this program.
The extra precautions made by the mayors, Ige said, will protect residents and travelers.
The state has used about $30 million in CARES Act funds to purchase additional tests and equipment, Ige said. In part, this will be used in long-term housing facilities, schools and other high-density areas.
4 new deaths, 62 infections
Yesterday, the state Department of Health officials reported 4 additional coronavirus-related deaths and 62 new infections statewide, bringing the totals since the start of the pandemic to 173 deaths and 13,575 cases.
Tuesday’s new infection cases include 11 on Maui, 21 on Hawai‘i Island and 30 on O‘ahu.
Three of the deaths were on O‘ahu, and one on Maui.
Lt. Gov. Josh Green said the state is “totally committed” to the pre-test program through the pandemic.
“The mayors are going to supplement these safety measures, which is very smart,” Green said.
The state will also do its part with a surveillance program that will test up to 10% of arrivals across the island four days after they arrive for the next 60 days. The test will be free and voluntary.
“We’ve made great progress in the last few weeks,” Green said, pointing to a curve flattening.
The state went from 300 daily new cases to 62 yesterday and a weekly average down to 96 from highs this summer.
“All the testing in the world will not stop the spread of COVID if they are not wearing a mask,” Green said.
For more information on trusted test partners, the Safe Travels program or travel-related questions, visit hawaiicovid19.com or call 1-800-GO-HAWAII.