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Gov. Ige extends passenger quarantine, outlines exemptions allowing out-of-state college students to return to class

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Gov. David Ige today extended a mandatory 14-day self-quarantine for out-of-state passengers as part of his 10th emergency proclamation covering the coronavirus.

The extension has been expected since at least Monday, when Ige announced his intention as part of a press conference to delay the start of a pre-arrivals testing program from Aug. 1 to at least Sept. 1. Ige said at the time that his caution was related to the state’s community spread as well as higher COVID-19 counts on the mainland, especially in states that supply a majority of Hawaii’s tourism.

All arriving out-of-state passengers currently must undergo an airport screening that includes a temperature check and examines their intent to comply with the quarantine, which stays in place for the first 14 days of their trip or the duration of a shorter trip.

All arriving travelers and their hosts will be required to comply with all applicable state and county rules, directives and orders. Violating the quarantine could result in a fine of up to $5,000 and up to a year in jail.

The passenger quarantine, which began on March 26, has further weakened Hawaii travel demand, which began falling earlier this year due to COVID-19 fears. An interisland passenger quarantine, which went into effect on April 1, ended June 16. However, the resumption of interisland travel hasn’t done much to aid in the recovery of Hawaii tourism.

On any given day in July, about 35,000 airplane passengers, most of them visitors, usually arrive in Hawaii. The Hawaii Tourism Authority reported today that on Thursday only 737 of the 2,616 passengers arriving in Hawaii were visitors.

As many as 111 of Thursday’s arriving passengers had been granted quarantine exemptions.

Today Ige also announced the start of exemption procedures that will allow out-of-state college students to return to fall semester classes at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, Chaminade University, Hawaii Pacific University, and Kauai Community College.

Upon arriving in the state, students must show proof of a negative approved COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of their point-of-departure. Students who haven’t received a negative result before arriving in Hawaii must quarantine until they receive proof. Students may take a COVID-19 test within 48-hours of arriving in Hawaii, but cannot transition out of 14-day quarantine until they produce a negative test result.

Quarantining students, who meet certain requirements such as daily wellness checks, only may attend university activities, like classes, during the 14 days following arrival.

Ige’s proclamation did not address implementation of a pre-arrivals testing program, which would provide a pathway to reopen Hawaii tourism. Ige’s 11th emergency proclamation, which he’ll issue in August, is expected to provide more details of the program which is expected to allow passengers with approved negative COVID-19 tests taken within 72 hours of their trip to Hawaii to bypass the quarantine.

Along with extending tourism restrictions, Ige’s proclamation also contained some provisions designed to mitigate the impacts of Hawaii’s dire economy.

Ige extended a moratorium on evictions for non-payment of rent.

He also made it easier for himself to access CARES Act money in the Rainy Day Fund.

In an effort to address economic shortfalls related to COVID-19, Ige also suspended certain post-employment benefits and pre-funding payments to the Hawaii Employer-Union Health Benefits Trust Fund.

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