Hawaii Considers Uniform Travel Policy, Ige Unlikely to Approve

Hawaii Considers Uniform Travel Policy, Ige Unlikely to Approve

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Hawaii's House of Representatives Will Consider House Speaker Saiki's Proposal for a Uniform Travel Policy, when the House reconvenes on January 20. Currently, travelers must provide a negative result from a COVID-19 test taken within the 72 hours prior to departure of their final flight to Hawaii, but Kauai has opted out of the Safe Travels program for Trans-Pacific arrivals. Kauai does allow inter-island travelers with a negative COVID-19 test to avoid quarantine.

Saiki also wants to introduce a law that would allow inbound passengers to take a COVID-19 test at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport in Honolulu if they do not have a negative test before landing. Passengers testing negative would not be subject to quarantine. Ever since 11/24/20, Hawaii has required travelers to have a negative COVID-19 test from a Hawaii state testing partner *before* boarding the flight, otherwise the traveler is subject to Hawaii's 10 day quarantine (even if a negative test result is received during or after the flight).

Lt. Governor Josh Green is supportive, noting that there has been confusion for travelers given the changing policies of the islands. For example, Kauai was initially included as part of the Hawaii Safe Travels program, open to trans-Pacific travelers, then it opted out entirely, and now, as noted in the above link, it's closed to trans-Pacific travelers but available to inter-island travelers, with a negative COVID-19 test.

According to Green, “to the extent we can make [the travel policies for the different Hawaiian islands] all the same, that is a smart move, and I would tend to support Speaker Saiki’s position on that.”

On the other hand, Governor Ige, while acknowledging that he could issue statewide orders that impact all islands equally, recognizes that ICU capacity differs significantly from island to island. Kauai has the fewest hospital beds and ICU capacity of any county (less than the Big Island of Hawaii, Maui County, and Oahu). Ige acknowledges that most COVID-19 cases are from community spread, not from travelers, but because just a couple severe COVID-19 cases can so disproportionately affect Kauai, prefers to give county mayors flexibility when it comes to their participation in the Hawaii Safe Travels program.

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