LIHU‘E — Monday evening, Mayor Derek Kawakami sent up two proposed local emergency rules for Gov. David Ige’s approval in an attempt to fill in gaps on the state’s Safe Travels program.
The first rule would require participants of the program to quarantine for 72 hours prior to taking a mandatory post-travel test. Upon a negative result, the traveler may be released from quarantine.
The second rule requires travelers to have a negative test prior to flying to Kaua‘i. If results are not available upon arrival on island, the traveler would be required to quarantine for two weeks.
“We know this announcement will result in a lot of frustration for travelers and those in our visitor industry, but the outbreak of COVID-19 across the nation is occurring at a faster rate than we’ve ever seen before,” Kawakami said in a statement. “We have the unique opportunity to see the wave of disease coming, and in order to avoid a full shutdown, we must take decisive, aggressive action.”
Kawakami hopes to receive an answer to his rules within the next day.
“Time is of the essence and we are hopeful the Governor will honor the promised 24-hour review period,” he said.
Last week, Kawakami and his administration expressed frustration at the current Safe Travels program, which allows travelers to bypass a mandatory 14-day quarantine by producing a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of arrival into the state.
Since the state’s Oct. 15 reopening, the county has seen nine travel-related positive cases that involved travelers who had taken a pre-travel but received their positive results after boarding their flights and arriving on the island.
Another gap in the system has been linked to travelers with a negative pre-travel test later being diagnosed with COVID-19. To date, the county has caught 12 cases like this.
In the last month, the county has seen 26 travel-related positive COVID-19 cases.
“A month into the state’s Safe Travels program, it is clear that a single pre-travel test is not sufficient to protect us from the spread of COVID-19. Our cases are increasing much faster than initial state projections,” Kawakami said in a press release. “Currently, we sit at Tier 4 — the least restrictive tier — and this is where we want to remain.”
Emergency Rule #21 is similar to the county’s proposed post-arrival, two-test system, which Kawakami requested approval for in September but was denied.
In lieu of this program, the county began offering its own post-arrival test to residents and visitors using its own supply of rapid tests. However, within a sample period between Oct. 15 to 26, only 20% of eligible returning residents took a post-travel test, while only 2% of visitors.