LIHU‘E — Across from the Lihu‘e Airport, two welcoming signs appeared overnight leading into Thursday’s reopening.
“Please kokua,” one sign read. “Keep us COVID-safe.”
About 30 trans-Pacific flights, some cargo but mostly passenger, entered the state yesterday, carrying over 8,300 new arrivals, Lt. Gov. Josh Green said yesterday during a press conference at the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport in Honolulu.
Travelers are required to complete the state’s Safe Travels form, registering flight and pre-travel test information.
Out-of-state or interisland travelers must receive a negative Nucleic Acid Amplification Test (NAAT)/PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test through a state-partnered organization within 72 hours of arrival in the state to bypass the quarantine.
Test results can be recalled at any time via this platform.
“We do know every traveler on every flight what their specific status would be,” Gov. David Ige said Thursday.
However, the state cannot stop a positive case from boarding a plane or entering the state, but Ige said visitors should practice on “personal responsibility.”
“We are asking for the same level of diligence and care from our visitors that we expect from our residents,” Ige said Thursday. “We do know the residents of Hawai‘i have sacrificed tremendously to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in our community.”
The state will start its surveillance program on Oct. 19, randomly selecting 10% of travelers. The 10%, Green said, was based on a model used in Tahiti.
“We are trying to build a program that gives us a snapshot,” Ige added.
It’s inevitable that cases will rise, Green said, but that’ll partially be due to people getting back to work.
“People will be having lunch together, they will be working side by side, this is more people working in this terminal than have worked in the last three months,” he said.
There is no “explicit” positivity rate that would send the state back into lock-down, Ige said.
The state’s Department of Health reported 91 new positive cases and one COVID-19 related death on O‘ahu. These cases include two on Maui, 13 on Hawai‘i Island, 74 on O‘ahu, and two out of state.
The state peaked at 318 hospitalizations on August 5. On Thursday, the state had 103 people hospitalized.
In Lihu‘e, the Kaua‘i Police Department ramped up its presence at the airport yesterday.
“With the anticipated higher volume of passengers arriving today, KPD did increase the amount of officers at the airport to assist with the COVID-related operations,” a spokesperson for the department said.
Early Thursday morning, Kaua‘i County Council Vice Chair Ross Kagawa got a call from an upset resident.
The constituent, he said, saw signs protesting the islands reopening and felt uneasy over the rhetoric from local residents demanding the island stay closed and telling travelers to leave.
“The majority of people who have come onto the island have followed the rules,” he said. “You have residents that have been trying to come home since the pandemic started.”
Protesting the reopening, he continued, is not the way to go.
“How would we feel if we got those signs? Where’s the line?” he said. “It’s trying to instill violence. That’s not acceptable.”