Hawaii Delays Pre-Travel Testing Program for the Second Time

A spike in cases across the state means out-of-state visitors will have to wait

James R.D. Scott / Getty Images

You can't say we didn't warn you: Hawaii, which had previously considered reopening to visitors on Sept. 1, has officially pushed back its reopening to Oct. 1. The state's governor, David Ige, had alluded to the delay for weeks now, as COVID-19 cases skyrocketed, but he made the official announcement on Tuesday. This is the second time the state has delayed its reopening after initial plans for June were tabled.

"We will continue to monitor the conditions here in Hawaii as well as key markets on the mainland to determine the appropriate start date for the pre-travel (COVID-19) testing program," Ige said. Under the proposed program, visitors who test negative for COVID-19 before arrival would be eligible to bypass the state's mandatory 14-day quarantine.

Unfortunately, the news isn't great, both for travelers who bought flights and booked hotels counting on September's reopening, as well as the vast number of tourism industry employees throughout the state. Since March, the islands' unemployment rate has increased exponentially and was at nearly 14 percent in June, down from 24 percent in May. The number is among the highest in the country. Almost 33 percent of the state's 660,000 workers work in tourism. On a typical day, the Aloha State used to see more than 30,000 passengers arriving per day—now it's a mere fraction of that.

The government has said that it will give local businesses, hotels, and airlines plenty of notice ahead of the program's official start. But the newest delay will still have huge impacts on travelers planning visits, as well as airlines, many of which had expected to ramp up flights to the islands next month.

Article Sources
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  1. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Local Area Unemployment Statistics."

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