If you were making plans to visit Hawaii in September, you might want to put those plans on hold. The state had been planning to enact a pre-travel coronavirus testing program for out-of-state visitors that would allow those with negative results to bypass the mandatory 14-day quarantine, effective Sept. 1. But a spike in new cases may delay the program’s rollout.
Hawaii Governor David Ige first announced the tourism program on June 24, anticipating it to go into effect on Aug. 1. Visitors to Hawaii would have to present a negative COVID-19 PCR test (taken at their own expense at an accredited facility) upon arrival at the airport and pass a temperature check to be released from the mandatory 14-day quarantine.
“This multi-layered pre-travel testing and screening process allows travelers an alternative to the 14-day travel quarantine in a way that protects the health and safety of our kama‘āina and visitors,” Gov. Ige said in a statement. “Now is the time to work together to ensure that our local businesses can safely re-open to incoming travelers.”
But that plan was pushed back a month to Sept. 1 after other states starting seeing significant spikes in new coronavirus cases, and after laboratories faced testing supply shortages.
Now, Hawaii is facing its own spike—the state set a record for the highest number of new cases reported in a single day on Aug. 3, with 207 positive test results. That number, however, was skewed slightly due to a delay in reporting from the state’s laboratories. But on Aug. 4, the state reported 139 new cases, indicating that the infection is indeed spreading more rapidly than before.
“As we re-opened, many people have relaxed their vigilance, and this new surge is a result. If we don’t get this surge under control, we may need to put back some restrictions, and no one wants to see that,” Gov. Ige said in a statement. “We can only beat COVID-19 by working together. Everyone needs to take personal responsibility. Wear a mask, wash your hands, practice physical distancing, avoid large gatherings, stay home if you’re sick, and keep your children home if they feel sick. We were successful in keeping the virus under control, and I know we can do it again.”
Given these developments, it’s become increasingly likely that the pre-travel testing program will be pushed back even further. “If there are too many cases here and we haven’t stopped the increase, then we would be looking at delaying the Sept. 1 date,” Gov. Ige said at a press conference.