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Trans-Pacific travelers arriving on Maui will be subject to rapid COVID-19 testing

  • CHRISTIE WILSON / CWILSON@STARADVERTISER.COM
                                Trans-Pacific travelers arriving on Maui will be subject to rapid testing for COVID-19 under new public health emergency rules that are expected to take effect in two weeks. Passengers arriving at Kahului Airport Friday already faced long lines for Safe Travels processing.

    CHRISTIE WILSON / CWILSON@STARADVERTISER.COM

    Trans-Pacific travelers arriving on Maui will be subject to rapid testing for COVID-19 under new public health emergency rules that are expected to take effect in two weeks. Passengers arriving at Kahului Airport Friday already faced long lines for Safe Travels processing.

Maui County has gotten approval from Gov. David Ige to require trans-Pacific passengers to undergo rapid testing for COVID-19 upon arrival at Kahului Airport, even if they obtain a pre-travel test under the state’s Safe Travels program.

Although the new requirement for a second test is included in Mayor Michael Victorino’s latest update of county public health emergency rules that goes into effect Friday, the mayor said Wednesday it will take at least another two weeks before a testing system is put in place at the Maui airport. He said the county is talking with a private company to administer the program.

Hawaii already requires travelers wishing to bypass a 10-day quarantine period to obtain a coronavirus test from an approved testing partner within 72 hours of the final leg of departure to the islands and provide a negative test result.

Maui District Health Officer Dr. Lorrin Pang has expressed concern that the lag between pre-travel testing and arrival on the island several days later allows some travelers who are incubating the virus to enter the community undetected.

Victorino said the second round of testing will help officials determine whether visitors and returning residents are contributing to the alarming surge in COVID-19 cases in recent months that has coincided with increased passenger arrivals.

Under Maui’s new rules, even passengers with negative pre-travel COVID-19 tests are subject to taking a second test — administered and paid for by Maui County — after landing at Kahului Airport. Those who refuse will have to quarantine.

Children under the age of 5 traveling with parents or guardians who have negative COVID-19 test results will not be subject to post-arrival testing.

The new rules also do not apply to interisland travelers, who are still subject to the Safe Travels testing and quarantine program.

Another requirement: Interisland or trans-Pacific travelers to Maui wishing to avoid quarantine through the Safe Travels program must take the additional step of downloading the AlohaSafe Alert app or some other COVID-19 exposure notification app on their mobile device.

According to the rules, failure to provide proof of registration, such as showing airport screeners or law enforcement officers the app on a mobile device, shall result in mandatory quarantine, except for individuals under the age of 18 or travelers who don’t possess a mobile device.

Victorino is awaiting approval from Ige of a pilot program for “vaccination passports” that would exempt travelers from testing and quarantine rules if they have completed all of the recommended COVID-19 vaccine doses and were administered the last dose at least 14 days prior to arrival in Maui County.

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