HONOLULU (CBS SF) – For the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic struck, Bay Area travelers looking to vacation in Hawaii may soon be able to travel to the islands without undergoing the state’s 14-day quarantine.
According to a statement by Gov. David Ige, the state will implement its pre-travel testing program on October 15th. Under the program, tourists can avoid the quarantine if they receive a FDA-approved nasal swab test within 72 hours of arrival and can provide proof of a negative test result from a CLIA certified lab.
Visitors must also undergo a temperature check upon arrival in Hawaii. Anyone who is unable to provide proof must still undergo the quarantine, which forces travelers to shelter-in-place outside of medical emergencies. Travelers who took the test and are waiting on results would also need to quarantine until results are received and sent to the state.
One of the most popular tourism destinations for Californians, Hawaii imposed its 14-day quarantine back in March. Plans to allow visitors to bypass the quarantine with a negative test have been delayed multiple times, due to cases surging on the mainland and in Hawaii.
In July, a federal judge rejected a legal challenge to the quarantine brought on by a group of Hawaii, California and Nevada residents, saying such measures were reasonable due to the public health crisis.
Hawaii “imposed the quarantine to prevent the importation and spread of COVID-19 and to avoid overwhelming the health care system, which are compelling state interests,” US District Judge Jill Otake said in her ruling.
A number of visitors have been arrested for breaking quarantine, including a newlywed couple from Sacramento County who traveled to Honolulu in May for their honeymoon.
The pandemic has decimated tourism worldwide, and Hawaii is no exception. According to the Hawaii Tourism Authority (.pdf), more than 10 million people visited the islands in 2019 and tourists spent $17.75 billion, supporting 216,000 jobs.