Gov. David Ige announced this afternoon that the state’s pre-travel testing program is on schedule to start Oct. 15 and will include random COVID-19 testing of 10% of travelers four days after arrival in an effort to determine the program’s effectiveness.
Ige also announced that the federal government has committed to allocating 420,000 rapid antigen test kits to Hawaii through the end of the year. The tests will be made available to long-term care facilities and eventually to the public schools.
“These tests will be a vital part of us getting back to the new normal. We are all hoping to get everyone back to work and our kids back to the classroom,” Ige said during a news conference at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport.
Lt. Gov. Josh Green said the post-travel testing would be a pilot program to see if it works as an additional layer of security.
“We do not expect a large number of travelers to be positive with COVID. The prevalence rate is pretty low on the mainland now. But by doing this we can reassure ourselves,” Green said.
Under the pre-travel program, visitors that get an approved negative test for COVID-19 within 72 hours of travel to Hawaii will be able to bypass a mandatory, 14-day quarantine.
Green said discussions about testing will continue between the governor and the state’s mayors, who have said they prefer two tests for each traveler.
Hawaii island Mayor Harry Kim has said he will opt out of the state’s pre-travel testing program because of concerns that one test is not enough to keep out the virus.
Kauai Mayor Derek Kawakami has said he has not made a final decision on whether the island will participate.
Ige said this afternoon that he has not heard officially from any mayor about whether they are backing out of the program.
Currently, most travelers arriving in the islands must quarantine for 14 days. Interisland travelers from Oahu are also subject to the 14-day quarantine.
Ige said the interisland quarantine will continue for now but that could change because he’s been in discussions with the mayors about alternatives.
An estimated 5,000 daily arrivals are expected when the state’s pre-travel testing policy takes effect, up from about 2,000 visitors currently.