The travel industry let out a sigh of relief after Hawaii’s Governor David Ige announced that, effective October 15, the state would not require a 14-day quarantine for visitors from the U.S. mainland if they showed proof of a negative COVID test.
To avoid quarantine, all arrivals would have to provide a negative test result with an FDA approved NAAT (nucleic acid amplification test) performed with a nasal swab from a CLIA certified lab from 72 hours before arrival.
With just a few weeks before the grand re-opening, Hawaii has been working with different entities to get all the systems in place to make this happen. Unfortunately, there have been a few hiccoughs:
Hawaii has made it clear that all visitors need to best tested, regardless of age. They’ve partnered with several large pharmacy and medical companies for testing. All, as of this writing, will only test children age 12 and over.
“Families trying to travel on this pre-travel testing program will have a difficult time trying to find someone who will be willing to administer the test,” Governor Ige was quoted in West Hawaii Today.
Therefore, it’s expected that untested children of families who arrive in Hawaii after the state reopens on Oct. 15 will still need to quarantine for 14 days, even if their parents arrive with a negative test. Which, of course, means those entire families would still need to quarantine. Ugh!
For now, they’re trying to get their testing partners such as CVS and Walgreens to accept patients as low as 5-year-old for nose swabs. But even if that happens, it’s also not yet clear if Gov. Ige will allow children younger than 5 to not have to be tested.
But that’s not all of the testing woes that are happening.
United Airlines recently announced they would offer COVID-19 tests to passengers flying out of SFO to Hawaii. They’d have two versions: a 15-minute test that could be done at the airport (at a cost of $250 per passenger), or a mail-in test with results that would be back from a lab in a few days (cost: $80 per person).
United said its two tests met all of Governor Ige’s requirements but Lt. Governor Josh Green has since said that the mail-in test (which is also the cheaper of the two) would not be acceptable. They want all tests to be witnessed.
Green said that one health company uses telehealth to watch people put their samples into vials. He hopes the state will eventually allow self-monitored mail-in tests. But he made it clear that was not yet the case.
“Testing at the airport meets all the criteria and could be a game-changer for Hawaii,” said Green. “The mail-in component has not been approved. Perhaps it will be in the future. Right now we are not taking mail-in testing that is not witnessed.”
It’s been suggested that some would be able and willing to spend $250 per person on testing, but for others, the additional required cost (which is almost as much as the airfare from San Francisco) would then make travel to Hawaii prohibitive.
As of this writing, there are still two more weeks until Hawaii is scheduled to reopen to visitors. It’s good to have goals but it’s also good to give yourself enough time to ensure all your goals can be met. Hopefully, Hawaii will be ready by October 15.
Feature Photo: Raimond Spekking/Wikimedia Commons
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary