Ige says Oct. 15 opening of trans-Pacific travel is essential for state’s economy

Noble Horvath

Gov. David Ige remained insistent Wednesday that the state is committed to opening up trans-Pacific travel on Oct. 15 without requiring quarantines for arriving passengers who tested negative for COVID-19 by using a “trusted partner” of the state within 72 hours prior to departure. The trusted partners announced as of […]

Gov. David Ige remained insistent Wednesday that the state is committed to opening up trans-Pacific travel on Oct. 15 without requiring quarantines for arriving passengers who tested negative for COVID-19 by using a “trusted partner” of the state within 72 hours prior to departure.

The trusted partners announced as of Wednesday include AFC Urgent Care, Carbon Health, CityHealth Urgent Care, Color, CVS Health, Hawaiian Airlines, Kaiser Permanente (for members only), Quest Diagnostics, Southwest Airlines, United Airlines, Vault Health and Walgreens.

Registration instructions and costs can be found on the partners’ websites. Links and more information for travelers seeking a pre-travel test and a list of approved trusted testing partners can be found at HawaiiCovid19.com.

Ige insisted Wednesday during a press conference at the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport in Honolulu that none of the mayors have opted out from the state’s plan. That’s despite rejecting on Monday Kauai Mayor Derek Kawakami’s request to test arrivals using 15,000 rapid-response test kits his county has stockpiled, and Hawaii Mayor Harry Kim’s insistence that “a one-test system … is just not an acceptable risk for Hawaii Island.”

Kim told the Tribune-Herald on Tuesday that he continues to work on a plan for additional testing he hopes to present to Gov. Ige for his review sometime this week.

“We all know that bringing back trans-Pacific travelers is essential to reviving our economy, and we are all committed to find the safest way to do that,” Ige said. “And, certainly, should it be that all the counties opt out, then we’ll have to look at other opportunities to bring trans-Pacific travelers back.

“I just told the mayors I’m very concerned about diverting the testing capacity of the state from our local residents, for people who are symptomatic or people who have been exposed and need to get a test. And I don’t want them to be in a situation that a visitor … gets a test and a resident is unable to get the test that they need.”

And although Ige hinted to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser on Monday that he might announce changes to the 14-day quarantine on interisland travelers arriving on any island except Oahu, that didn’t happen Wednesday.

“We do understand that there is some frustration with the interisland quarantine,” Ige said. “… We were looking at metrics and whether there would be a simple way to define metrics, and that, we’ve come to the conclusion, will not work.

“So we will continue to monitor the trends in each county and make decisions about whether the interisland quarantine is warranted and will be continued.”

State Health Director Libby Char said the state is getting 70,000 Abbott Laboratories rapid-test kits from the federal government weekly through the end of the year — 420,000 tests in all. But those will be used for residents, mostly those in nursing homes and for school testing, and not for travelers, she and Ige said.

Lt. Gov. Josh Green said details are being worked out for a surveillance testing pilot program to randomly test 10% of arrivals four days after they deplane in Hawaii. Green, a physician, said he is hoping to do the first testing Oct. 19.

“This is really … just meant to be an insurance policy to make sure that in that window between the time in which someone got their test, within 72 hours of departure to Hawaii, that we’re not seeing a lot of individuals that may have gotten sick en route … on a plane,” Green said.

“We don’t believe that’s a big concern, but it is a real question in people’s mind. And during the pandemic, we are trying to decrease people’s anxiety as they travel to Hawaii.”

Email John Burnett at [email protected]

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