LIHU‘E — Gov. David Ige has signed into effect a temporary pause of the Safe Travels program for Kaua‘i.
Mayor Derek Kawakami sent a proposal to Ige on Monday requesting the short-term opt-out, effective Wednesday, Dec. 2, after reporting a spike in both travel-related and community transmitted cases of the novel coronavirus.
Beginning Wednesday, any traveler coming into Kaua‘i will be required to quarantine, “regardless of a pre-travel test result,” Kawakami.
“A single, pre-travel test has not adequately protected our island from the rapid spread in virus,” Kawakami said in his COVID-19 briefing video Friday.
“The unprecedented surge of COVID-19 cases on the mainland and the rise in community spread on Kaua‘i are of significant concern for the Garden Isle. We must protect Kaua‘i residents and visitors and ensure that Kaua‘i’s hospitals do not become overwhelmed,” Ige said Friday. “Kaua‘i county currently has the fewest number of ICU beds in the state, and private providers are seeking ways to increase capacity. This moratorium aims to stabilize the situation on Kaua‘i.”
The rule is in effect for those traveling into the county, no matter if they are coming from a neighbor island, the Mainland or an international location. The rule, effective Dec. 2 at 12:01 a.m., has no timeframe of when it will dissolve and is subject to modification, according to the rule itself.
Residents will be allowed to quarantine at their residence, but visitors will need to stay at a resort bubble. The county has partnered with Cliffs at Princeville, Hilton Garden Inn, Koa Kea, Kukuiula and Timbers. Through this program, visitors will be required to wear bracelets that track their movements but be able to utilize resort amenities like on-site restaurants and spas.
Friday, the county reported two new cases of COVID-19, including one adult resident and one adult visitor, both linked to travel. One individual had a negative pre-travel test, according to the county.
Kaua‘i currently has 18 active cases and 95 people in health department-directed quarantine.
To date, the county has seen 127 cases, 112 confirmed locally, one probable case and 14 that received positive test results after arrival to the island.
The Safe Travels program allows travelers to bypass a mandatory 14-day quarantine with a negative COVID-19 test through a trusted partner within 72 hours of arrival into the state.
In the period from March to Oct. 14, the county recorded 61 cases. Since the state’s Oct. 15 reopening, the county has recorded 62 coronavirus cases. Eight of these has have been attributed to community transmission and 49 linked to travel.
The temporary opt-out is one of three local rules Kawakami has sent up to Ige in the past month, and the second to be approved. Another rule, to require the pre-travel test results prior to boarding a flight or face the two-week quarantine was adopted by the state.
A third rule, which would have required a three-day quarantine and mandatory post-arrival test was not approved or denied. Without a negative test, the traveler would have to remain in quarantine for an additional 11 days. This is similar to a post-arrival test plan proposed prior to the Oct. 15 reopening that was denied by the state.