During a Monday news conference, Gov. David Ige announced that he’s waiting another month to waive a 14-day quarantine requirement for out-of-state visitors who test negative for COVID-19. Ige cited an increasing number of local cases, “uncontrolled” outbreaks in several US mainland states and a shortage of testing supplies, the Associated Press reports.
Officials also anticipate case numbers to surge when Hawaiian public schools reopen in early August.
The 14-day quarantine requirement was initially slated to take effect on Aug. 1.
“This was an extremely difficult decision to make. This delay will further hurt our economy, but as I’ve always said – we will make decisions based on the best available science and facts prioritizing the health and safety of Hawai‘i residents,” Ige said in a statement. “Our county mayors and I agree, this delay is essential to protect our community.”
Acknowledging that the reopening delay “increases the burden on businesses,” especially small businesses, the governor stressed that protecting the health and safety of the community remains paramount amid the ongoing outbreak.
According to the Associated Press, the quarantine requirement virtually closed tourism to Hawaii since the policy took effect in late March. The unemployment rate is 22.6 percent, the nation’s second-highest.
When the testing program begins next month, tourists arriving in Hawaii from out of state can be exempt from the 14-day quarantine rule if they test negative for COVID-19 – with a valid nucleic acid amplification test from a CLIA-certified lab – no more than 72 hours before travel, prior to arrival.
Travelers must show proof of the negative test at the airport – though no commercial testing will be held at Hawaiian air hubs, the Hawaii Tourism Authority reports.
If the visitor cannot provide proof of the negative test, they must remain in quarantine until their results are received. What’s more, out-of-state travelers of all ages are subject to the pre-test rule, including children.
As of Tuesday morning, the Hawaii State Department of Health reports that there have been 1,243 cases of COVID-19 in the Aloha State – one of the lowest infection rates in the US. The viral disease has claimed the lives of 22 people.