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Travelers to Maui must now download AlohaSafe Alert app to bypass mandatory quarantine

  • COURTESY PHOTO

    COURTESY PHOTO

Traveling to Maui?

You’ll need an app for that.

Starting Tuesday, Maui County began requiring all interisland and trans-Pacific travelers to the isle to download the state’s new AlohaSafe Alert app prior to arrival or else undergo a mandatory, 10-day quarantine. This is in addition to the negative COVID-19 test already required prior to travel under the state’s Safe Travels program in order to bypass the quarantine.

Maui Mayor Michael Victorino introduced the new requirement as part of a set of new rules in an effort to slow down the spread of COVID-19 as case numbers on the Valley isle continue to climb.

The new rules were approved by Gov. David Ige, and went into effect on Tuesday.

AlohaSafe Alert — a free app downloadable via Apple or Google Play — is designed to alert users if they have if they have been exposed to the new coronavirus using Bluetooth technology. It was officially launched statewide by the Hawaii Department of Health earlier this month in partnership with aio Digital and the Hawaii Executive Collaborative, and is the state’s official COVID-19 exposure notification app.

The app was first piloted on Lanai and in Hana, Maui, in mid-November. Maui County was the first county to officially launch the app in December before it was eventually rolled out on other isles.

Victorino said in a press conference this afternoon that the decision to require travelers to download the app was based on consultation with medical advisers and Maui’s executive team.

“This app is a wonderful tool,” he said. “When used properly, it does help make quick contact and let you know that you might have been exposed to a person who has been positive — that way you can take the necessary appropriate action to get yourself tested as well as quarantine if that’s necessary.”

While there is always some resistance from people, including those worried about any kind of tracking device, Victorino said the app’s purpose is to improve others’ well-being and safety.

After the app is downloaded, the smartphone uses Bluetooth technology running in the background to anonymously communicate with other phones that have a Google Apple Exposure Notification (GAEN) system. Devices with app will automatically “ping” each other, measuring the strength of the Bluetooth signal and the duration of interaction.

The notification will be triggered if phones were in proximity to one another in the past 14 days, at a distance of 6 feet or less for at least 15 minutes cumulative.

Privacy is protected, and recipients will not know who exposed them or where they were exposed.

Hawaii Executive Collaborative said during a Spotlight Hawaii conversation this morning that there have been about 50,000 downloads of the app so far.

Victorino announced the new requirement last Friday and said travelers from other isles and abroad must show they have downloaded the app to airport screeners to bypass quarantine. Travelers that have not will be asked to download it.

Those with other google notification system type of apps will be allowed through. Some 20 other U.S. states have their own versions of the apps. In California, for instance, the app is known as CA Notify.

Exceptions will be made for those under 18, or those who do not possess a mobile device, according to county rules. If one does not have a mobile device, an exception will be made if at least one individual in their traveling party has the app.

The Maui visitor industry is helping customers download the app, and at least one airline is informing passengers about it, county officials said. Airport screeners are also assisting.

The app is compatible with Androids Version 6 or above and iPhones with OS 13.7 or greater. It does not work on iPads or tablets.

Other Maui County rules that went into effect on Tuesday include a reduction of customers allowed in retail stores to 30% of maximum occupancy.

In addition, face masks are required at all times, whether inside or outside, at gyms, yoga studios and similar venues. Face masks must also be worn while walking to or from a pool or beach area.

Click here to see our full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak. Submit your coronavirus news tip.

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