Just over a month after Gov. David Ige granted Kauai Mayor Derek Kawakami’s request to opt out of Hawaii’s pre-travel testing program for travelers, the mayor is asking for permission to opt back in – sort of.
The state’s program lets people – both tourists and returning residents – sidestep Hawaii’s mandatory 10-day quarantine for travelers by getting a negative result on a COVID-19 test within three days of traveling to Hawaii.
Kauai asked to opt out of the program last month after cases surged to a seven-day average of three new cases per day, and Ige granted the request on Nov. 27. Opponents of the travel program had said a one-test system is not enough to keep Hawaii safe. But only Kauai chose to opt out.
In a press release on Wednesday, Kawakami said he was asking to rejoin the program but only for interisland travelers.
That includes residents as well as tourists as long as they stayed on another island for at least three days before going to Kauai.
“A person must be physically present in the State of Hawai‘i for more than 72 hours before flying to Kaua‘i in order to qualify as an inter-island traveler,” the release said. “This means that travelers who arrive from out of state would not be eligible to participate in the Safe Travels program to Kaua‘i until they have been in Hawai‘i for more than three days.”
If approved, the change would go into effect on Jan. 5.
In another twist, Ige on Wednesday approved a program for travelers to Kauai who don’t want to spend three days on a neighbor island first. It lets people take a test before departing for Kauai, and those who test negative can go to one of several designated resorts where they can wander freely on the property but not leave. After three days, they can take a second test, and they’re free to leave the resort if the second test is negative.
“Travelers who participate in this program will be able to enjoy resort amenities and visit the pool for the first three days of their vacations, until they are eligible to take their post-travel test,” Kawakami said in a press release issued by Ige. “Once the post-travel test shows they are COVID-free, they can enjoy all that Kaua‘i has to offer.”
People who test positive after three days will be placed in isolation and can’t enjoy the resort amenities or visit the pool, Sarah Blane, Kawakami’s chief of staff, said in an email. The length of isolation depends on symptoms, she said.
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