What returning residents should know about Hawaii’s pre-travel testing program

HONOLULU (KHON2) — Tourists will have a quarantine-free option to travel to Hawaii, but what about Hawaii residents who are trying to come back home?

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It may not be as easy if you don’t plan ahead.

One Kauai resident was doing research for a Christmas vacation on the mainland with his family and advised that travelers should carefully look at the options that are out there for returning residents.

Erik Brandsen checked CVS Health–one of two companies located in San Diego that are also under the state’s list of trusted travel partners. Brandsen learned that CVS does not test kids under the age of 12. He has a daughter who is 6-years-old and is required to be tested.

“It was interesting to have a travel partner when so many people that travel to Hawaii have kids under the ages of 12. So many Hawaii residents traveling to the mainland, bring their kids,” Brandsen pointed out.

Many of the state’s testing partners also require appointments. At CVS, you can book your appointment two days in advance. Brandsen said that getting a time slot could be a problem if it’s busy.

“You could be on your vacation, not be able to get tested,” he said. “I can book my rental car two weeks from today, I can book my hotel reservation two weeks from today, but I can’t book a test two weeks from today.”

CVS says it has more than 35-hundred testing sites in 33 states. In a statement CVS says

“We’re focused on increasing access to COVID-19 testing in order to help slow the spread of the virus and support efforts by states and communities to safely engage in critical activities, including interstate travel. Helping the State of Hawaii reopen for recreational travel in October will have a positive effect on the local economy and a number of key industries.

Per the State of Hawaii’s guidelines, beginning on October 15, travelers will be exempt from the mandatory 14-day quarantine if they provide written confirmation from a state approved COVID-19 testing facility (such as CVS Health) of a negative test result from a test administered to the traveler within 72 hours from the final leg of departure.

Once the program begins, people requiring a COVID-19 test to enable them to travel to Hawaii will need to register online to schedule an appointment at a COVID-19 test site at select CVS Pharmacy drive-thru locations. Tests will cost $139 per test and we currently expect the majority of test results to be available within 2-3 days.”

The state also accepts tests from 9 other partners, at least one of them provides mail-in tests.

KHON2 talked to other Hawaii travelers who went through a similar headache of trying to find a convenient location to test. Since being in unfamiliar areas can be tricky, they’ve decided to pre-order mail-in test kits through Vault Health.

For Brandsen, he wants returning residents to do their research carefully.

“I am personally going to go see my kids in San Diego next week–see how it goes by myself,” said Brandsen. “Before you even go purchasing your tickets, you need to make sure that you have a way to get tested.”

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