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Gov. Ige says pre-arrivals testing program to reopen tourism probably won’t begin Oct. 1

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Gov. David Ige today said that he’s likely to delay for the third time the start of a pre-arrivals testing program to reopen tourism in Hawaii.

The testing program would allow travelers who have taken an approved COVID-19 test within 72 hours of traveling to Hawaii to bypass a mandatory 14-day self-quarantine for out-of state passengers that’s been in place since March 26.

The plan, which was first announced in June, was originally going to launch Aug. 1, then Ige pushed it back to Sept. 1 and then Oct. 1 at the earliest.

“Just talking with many in the industry, it will probably not be Oct. 1,” Ige said today during an interview with “Spotlight Hawaii,” the Star-Advertiser’s Facebook Live show. “But in the next few days we’ll be providing a better plan for the scheduling of what those dates would look like.”

Travel demand for Hawaii has fallen significantly amid COVID-19 fears and tourism lockdowns.

Only 22,562 visitors flew to Hawaii in July, which last year was Hawaii’s best tourism month. Tourism arrivals to Hawaii declined 98% in July and 65% through the first seven months of the year.

It was February when Hawaii tourism last saw any gains, and hardships are mounting as the tourism lockdown that started in March has headed into fall.

A mandatory 14-day quarantine remains in effect for out-of-state travelers to reduce the spread of COVID-19. A partial interisland quarantine also was reinstated on Aug. 11.

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell, with Ige’s permission, recently extended a stay-at-home order, which began on Aug. 27 and is now slated to run through Sept. 23. The order is still strict, but parks, beaches and hiking trails have reopened to allow individuals to engage in solo activities, including reading, meditating, eating, jogging and sitting on the beach alone.

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