Kaua‘i to reinstate inter-island Safe Travels program

LIHU‘E — Those traveling from a neighbor island to Kaua‘i will soon be able to bypass the quarantine by using the state’s Safe Travels program beginning Tuesday, Jan. 5.

To qualify as an inter-island traveler, a flier would need to be physically present in the state for at least 72 hours. This rule is not exclusive to state residents, out-of-staters and resident travelers with at least three days in the state may qualify, too.

The state’s Safe Travels program, which started mid-October, allows travelers to by-pass a state-mandated 10-day quarantine with a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of travel with an approved testing partner.

After a rise in travel-related and community-transmitted COVID-19 infections, the County of Kaua‘i was given permission to temporarily suspend the Safe Travels program in early December for both inter-island and trans-Pacific travel, requiring travelers to quarantine with no test-out option. This is Rule 23.

In a separate Rule 24 approved by Gov. David Ige on Wednesday, those traveling from outside of the state to Kaua‘i may also participate in the county’s independent post-arrival resort bubble program, also effective Tuesday, Jan. 5.

“We realize the Resort Bubble program is tailored to visitors and is not ideal for our residents,” Mayor Derek Kawakami said in a Wednesday press release. “Our residents continue to be our highest priority. Now that our community has been able to enjoy the holiday season without a major surge in cases, we feel we are in a good position to loosen inter-island travel restrictions and offer more convenient opportunities to travel between islands.”

Incoming travelers may take a pre-travel test and stay at an approved Enhanced Movement Quarantine resort bubble property. After a three-day quarantine there, travelers will be allowed to seek a post-travel test and be released from the state’s 10-day quarantine with a negative result.

This rule is independent of the Safe Travels program and does not require travelers to utilize a state-approved travel or testing partner. Rather, travelers utilizing Rule 24, are allowed to submit any pre-travel and post-travel test so long as it has received emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

All other trans-Pacific travelers not staying at a resort bubble would be required to quarantine the full 10 days at a private residence or hotel property.

Kaua‘i District Health Officer Dr. Janet Berreman explained Wednesday that the county is proposing “different treatment for interisland vs. mainland travelers” as the county’s “recognition” of different risk levels.

“As we have seen, even travelers who take the Safe Travels pre-travel test can develop COVID-19 after they arrive here,” Berreman said during the county’s COVID-19 briefing. “This is why here on Kaua‘i, we have advocated for requiring a second test before mainland travelers are released from quarantine. To protect our community, we need to detect as many individuals as possible who may pose a threat of disease on our island.”

Berreman compared recent infection rates in California to Hawai‘i.

“Even given the difference in population, California’s disease rate is many times ours,” Berreman said. “And that is also the case in many other Mainland states, so it makes sense to be more cautious with mainland travel.”

On Wednesday, the state’s Department of Health reported 108 new cases. California reported over 9,000 new cases Wednesday and 46 deaths, according to the Los Angeles Times.

“The rate of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths on the mainland continues to increase, with the number of cases this month nearly double the rate in November,” Berreman said in a statement. “Unfortunately, it is just not safe at this time to allow trans-Pacific travel to Kaua‘i without additional safeguards, we hope that will change soon.

“While O‘ahu, Maui, and Hawai‘i Island continue to have cases, the rate of infection is significantly lower than the mainland. With our low rates of disease and frontline healthcare workers and first responders beginning to be vaccinated, this is an appropriate time to allow inter-island travel with a pre-travel test, while continuing to require additional precautions for people who recently traveled out of state,” Berreman said.

Earlier this week, the country reported the first case of COVID-19 caused by the coronavirus B117 strain in Colorado and California. This variant was recently reported in the United Kingdom.

“This strain is more easily transmitted, but it does not appear to cause more serious symptoms,” Berreman said Wednesday. “All the information we have now indicates that the approved vaccines will protect against this strain just as they do earlier strains. Of course, we will be tracking and studying this new strain in order to continue increasing our understanding of its impact.”

  1. Kauai Ken December 31, 2020 4:40 am Reply

    Where can travelers get tested on Kauai following their three day quarantine? It appears the limited testing options are limited to only those with “medical” referrals. Kawakami must address this before this Bubble plan can work, he owns his Kauai -only restriction from start to finish, can’t just leave to every single person to sort out for themselves.

  2. D Judge December 31, 2020 9:36 am Reply

    Makes perfect sense! Use the neighbor islands to screen the Guinea pigs (tourist). Aloha!!! Then struggling tourist related businesses and their employees can then hope the tourist on the other islands don’t decide “hey, lets just stay and spend our money on this nice island and avoid getting upended by rule 24-30 or some other idiotic change”!

    Suggestion: Suspend all pay for the all non essential government employees and bureaucrats on Kauai and this non sense will be cease!
    Thoughts and prayers for the thousands who struggle because of insane rules such as those imposed on the citizens of Kaui! 2021 will be better!

  3. Paulo December 31, 2020 9:38 am Reply

    3 days quarantine then taking the post test is not long enough. I appreciate Mayor Kawakami trying to accommodate all sides but this short quarantine period will allow some travelers out of quarantine before the Covid virus has developed enough to show on the test.

    If the traveler tests 72 hours prior to traveling and then 3 days later testing again that is 6 days or less. Not enough time.

  4. Da Shadow December 31, 2020 12:31 pm Reply

    Our mayor seems keen on destroying so many livelihoods. And for what, all these cases that don’t even result in hospitalization? If the mayor truly thinks a single death is unacceptable, why aren’t speed limits 10mph? Alcohol and junk food banned (in 2018, over 2,500 deaths in Hawaii due to heart disease)?
    The needs of the few are more important than the needs of the many?
    What is life without risk??

    1. What? January 1, 2021 9:59 am Reply

      I agree 100%, but we also need to ban any ocean water sports too, cause DK cant have anyone dying on is watch.

  5. doesnt matter December 31, 2020 5:17 pm Reply

    best thing ever happened to kauai is the doors closed. ya surf skool was a pain in the ass anyhow, ya heli tours were just a big ego trip , Mililani trask had no idea how true her words were when she pleaded for Hawaiians to diversify away from any work that benefitted the prostitution , theft and marketing of the Hawaiian culture, all for a corn fed visitor from Iowa. Now go grow food, go fish, the game is over, tourism will never recover, and whether you like it or not, its PONO, look it up, and well over due for the preservation of stolenculture and lands for the benefit of the invaders themselves. A culture wrapped and marketed for others benefits, and a crushed planet will benefit from covid.

  6. I saw a Vampire once December 31, 2020 8:17 pm Reply

    I agree. I think the survival rate in the U.S.A. is at 46%. This is according to a Honolulu StarAdvertiser blog commenter section. Over 300,000 deaths in the U.S.A. In California alone, I think it was 2 million COVID-19 cases. The numbers gets higher. There is some immunity. Good news. The virus attacks, but the immune system builds up to a point they become immuned to the virus. The COVID-19 B.1.1.7 strain is a little different. It mutates and attaches itself on the protein spike, of which cause the virus to become uncontrollable to a point of not breathing and death. But this strand is 51,000 in 17,000,000 cases. So quite a far off, but concern.

  7. mike December 31, 2020 8:31 pm Reply

    I agree with Ken, D Judge, Da Shadow (sorry Paulo). The Damage being done by the Mayor and his rules is really unthinkable and insane. Kauai should be on the same pre-travel testing program that the rest of the state is on. An what is with all the talk about the hospitals might get overrun? The very few times someone with COVID has gone to the hospital they end up getting transferred to Oahu. Right now, as has been truth 90 + % of the time since March, there are no COVID patients in the hospitals on Kauai. Oh when will insanity end and common sense return? To bad Common Sense is not common anymore.

  8. Kathryn H December 31, 2020 9:56 pm Reply

    Can someone please explain why you can’t quarantine in your own house then take the test after 3 days .

    1. Old Fart Haole January 1, 2021 1:54 pm Reply

      Great question! Do we have a “press” on the island that knows how to ask questions instead of just repeating what the mayor’s office says? Is there still a county council, and do those people do anything? Why aren’t they asking that same question on behalf of the very people they are supposed to be representing? Shouldn’t the council be making the laws/rules following open-to-public discussion, just like all the other numerous laws/rules? This virus panic has been going on for 10 months now. Why are we still allowing ourselves to be “governed” by emergency proclamations? Number 24!?

  9. J.D. January 1, 2021 6:25 am Reply

    Mayor kamikaze strikes again! He is ruining the Island. Last summer I stated many businesses will look like coco palms. I think I was right.

  10. Vanquish Vaccines January 2, 2021 12:39 am Reply

    Don’t take the disease laden vaccine, you just might die.

    The numbers of deaths on mainland are lies to promote the profits on the vaccine.

    Don’t go anywhere near the vaccine, you may die and Fauci, Bill gates and others will profit large.

  11. Dr. Tinner February 9, 2021 11:59 am Reply

    As a researcher, I would like to shed light on some realities.
    Covid is a flu, not ebola or the plague, or even tuberculosis, all more deadly and infectious than Covid. So why Kauai has not, or is not requiring tests for those? By the way TB immunization is not part of the array of vaccines given to infants in USA, although TB has rebounded all over the world. Has Kauai requested a TB test to any travelers the last 20 years?
    Every US citizen has a daily 30% chance to have a car crash. Yet, no one has stopped the economy for this reason!
    Covid is without a doubt a nasty flu and more than any other flu, no one wishes to have it. However, like any other flu, we have at hand cheap and reliable medications for Covid: cefazolin antibiotic, ivermectin, hydroxychloroquine and lastly eliquis and decadron for those who would have a ENT/pulmonary complication.
    Furthermore, Israel has recently developed 2 new medications that takes covid-infected people out of the ER in 3-4 days (99% success rate).
    So, why this paranoia? Why having US including Hawaiian citizens suffer from poverty and depression when we presently have all what we need to recover quickly if infected with Covid.
    This crisis is a total media-made crisis and covid with its multiple mutations will be here with us at least 6-7 years. Does it mean that everyone besides a few who own shares in big pharma needs to starve?

    It is alarming that politicians and media do not take 101 lectures in biology!

  12. Guinevere February 16, 2021 8:44 am Reply

    It is a shame what Kauai is doing. Shutting down an economy does more damage than the virus itself! Simply Vit D + Zinc+ Vit C does wonders at protecting us from the virus. That is why Hawaii has fared so well. We have a lot of natural Vitamin D. I agree with D Judge we need to DEFUND the Bureaucrats calling the shots. They can see what it feels like to be without a pay check. Governor IGE is to blame and all of his crony mayor elitist friends driving the population into poverty! Hoping to get everyone hooked on social assistance and feed them enough fear pron and NO ONE wants to re-enter the work force. (speaking as a small business owner on Maui who is also dealing with the ramifications of these ludicrous policies.) Stay home if you are immune deficient. The rest of us get back to life!

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