HONOLULU — Tourists heading to Hawaii will not have to submit to quarantine if they test negative for the coronavirus, Gov. David Ige said in a news release Wednesday.
Ige said that beginning Oct. 15, out-of-state visitors can bypass the 14-day quarantine if they test negative. Travelers must take the test within 72 hours before their flight arrives in Hawaii, the governor said. Drugstore operator CVS and health care provider Kaiser Permanente will conduct the tests.
“I want to emphasize that this pre-travel testing will allow us to add a greater element of safety for travel into our state,” Ige said at a news conference.
The announcement comes on the heels of Ige authorizing a “resort bubble” program for Kauai, USA Today reported.
“We understand the need to address the economic hardship facing our tourism-based community, while also preserving the safety of our residents,” Kauai Mayor Derek S. K. Kawakami said in a statement. “The resort bubble program is an added tool to reopening our economy while we learn to co-exist with this virus. It’s not a replacement or the final solution, and we will continue to keep our community updated as we make progress.”
State officials hope that pre-travel testing will encourage tourists to return to Hawaii, according to The Associated Press.
Lt. Gov. Josh Green, who will be overseeing the rollout of the testing program, said the tests will cost about $140, Hawaii News Now reported. Green said the program “definitely provides economic opportunity to our state.”
Tourism officials in Hawaii welcomed the news.
“We’ve been ready for quite some time,” Mufi Hannemann, CEO of the Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association, told Hawaii News Now. “In fact, we have 5,000 rooms in Waikiki that are ready to go tomorrow.”
On Wednesday, the state’s Department of Health reported Hawaii had an average of 118 COVID-19 cases per day for the past seven days. That’s down from a seven-day daily average of 255 on Aug. 28, USA Today reported.