Hawaii Lt. Gov. Josh Green announced a modification to Hawaii’s pre-arrivals testing program that will make it easier for families to travel to Hawaii.
Green, named head of the state’s testing program by Hawaii Gov. David Ige, today joined “Spotlight Hawaii,” a Facebook live series from the Honolulu Star-Advertiser that shines a spotlight on issues affecting our islands.
During the interview, Green said the governor’s team has determined younger children, under age 5, will be allowed to bypass the quarantine without COVID-19 testing.
“They will be able to simply just travel with their parents and so people will not have to pay for that test. The reason for that before people ask is that age group is connected at the hip to their parents,” Green said.”If the parent is negative, then we know the child will be negative in all likelihood because they spend so much time together.”
Exempting younger children from the testing requirement is something travelers and travel sellers, who say Hawaii is primarily a family leisure destination, have been asking Hawaii to do.
But Green said kids in school are different and so they will still have to get tested.
“It might not be quite as easy as we would like for those individuals to get tests for kids. We’re working on that and we’re working on our partners bringing down their ages,” he said. “It looks like one of them will get down to age seven at least.
He said Ige is likely to confirm this modification to the pre-arrivals testing program and clarify other pre-arrivals testing program details during press briefings later this week or next week.
“You know it’s going to be a challenge and it’s not going to be totally perfect but it will decrease the risk,” Green said. “We will be only the second state in the country joining Alaska to have a pre-arrivals test to make sure we are safer than most. “
The governor’s order signed Sept. 23 currently says starting Oct. 15, all travelers seeking to bypass the quarantine are subject to the testing requirement.
Ige’s new order spells out that “travelers who, upon entry into the state, provide written confirmation from a state-approved COVID-19 testing facility of a negative test result from a test administered to the traveler within 72 hours from the final leg of departure, will be exempt from the mandatory quarantine.”
Green said Hawaii’s testing travel partners include: Quest Labs, Kaiser, Walgreens, CVS, United Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, and he’s expecting another airline to join.
Green said Quest Labs, the largest testing provider in the country, will get the tests into Walmart stores across the country.
He encouraged all visitors and returning residents to participate in the pre-arrivals testing program so that they won’t have to go straight into quarantine. Green said those in quarantine will be monitored and if they don’t comply with the emergency orders will face up to a $5,000 fine or up to a year in jail.
In addition, Green said the state is still discussing the possibility of having designated quarantine hotels or designations exclusively for those individuals that are “crazy enough to not get a test.”
“I don’t know why you wouldn’t get a test. You’ve got to be out of your mind to not get a test and come here and be in 14-day quarantine. As a guy, who just lived 14-day quarantine in my boy’s room, don’t do it to yourself because it is terrible,” said Green, who was recently in quarantine while he recovered from COVID-19.
Green said Hawaii’s pre-arrivals testing program does not allow travelers to take their tests in Hawaii.
Green said more information is coming on interisland and international travel to Hawaii. Currently, getting an FDA-approved NAAT test from a CLIA lab is something that’s only available in the U.S.
The interisland quarantine for travelers arriving in the counties of Kauai, Hawaii, Maui and Kalawao (Kalaupapa) remains in place; however, Ige’s proclamation allows counties to adopt a negative test exception process allowing travelers to bypass the interisland quarantine.