HONOLULU(KHON2) — For the first time since the beginning of the pandemic, Hawaii is welcoming travelers back to the islands.
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The state will use the pre-travel testing program, which kicks off Oct. 15, to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Those traveling to Hawaii can bypass the state’s mandatory 14-day quarantine with the program, but the process takes some research and planning. All travelers will be required to show proof that they tested negative to be exempt from the quarantine.
At the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport, preparations are underway for the start of the pre-travel testing program.
Department of Transportation spokesperson Tim Sakahara said everyone is very excited.
“There’s been a lot of effort to try to make this as smooth and efficient as possible,” said Sakahara.
Lieutenant Governor Josh Green said travelers should plan ahead if they want to take advantage of the program. He said one of the most important things to remember is to make sure that you get your test done from one of the accepted partners.
“Get the right test,” Lt. Gov. Green said. “Get the test from a trusted partner and follow the instructions on our website, HawaiiCOVID19.com.”
The screening process to take the test and the cost may differ for each testing partner.
Tests will only be accepted from one of the 17 trusted partners. If you show proof of a negative test from anyone other than one of the state partners, you will not be given an exemption.
The test must be taken within 72 hours of departure to Hawaii.
All passengers five years old and over must test negative to avoid quarantine. Children under five are not required to take a test.
Once the test results are received, the traveler needs to upload negative test results to the Safe Travels website 24-hours before departure to get their QR code. Each traveler must have a valid email and must have a QR code to expedite the verification process when they arrive in Hawaii.
Upon arrival, travelers will have their temperature taken as soon as they exit the airplane.
“Anybody with a temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit and above, will be pulled aside for additional medical screening,” said Sakahara.
Everyone else will be placed into one of four lines.
“There’s gonna be one line set aside for people who do not have a QR code. So they didn’t, in advance, fill out their Safe Travels application and form. Next to it, will be a line with the people who have the QR code and a negative test test,” Sahakara explained.
The third line is for those who are still waiting for their test results, and the fourth for exempt travelers like flight crew and military.
“Then after they get to the front of the line, they’re going to come over and see one of the people at these passenger verification tables. That’s where they’re going to scan the QR code, make sure and verify all that information is correct. If they have a negative test, that is where it will be verified. They’ll go through the passenger verification process.”
Sakahara said that there will be dozens of workers to assist passengers to make sure they get into the correct lines and to keep the lines moving.
But he’s also asking for travelers to be patient in the event of any setbacks.
“In this case, especially tomorrow, on the first day, we want people to pack their patience. Anytime you’re starting something new like this, it’s a transition and a change. We anticipate it’ll go very smoothly and efficiently. But, just in case, please be patient. Everybody is working very hard and doing their best. Just remember, you’re entering that aloha state. So remember that aloha within, as well.”
Travelers should keep proof of their negative test on them at all times–it will be needed to check into a hotel, rent a car and prove that they are exempt from quarantine if approached by police.
Any traveler still waiting for their test results, or who chose not pre-test, will be required to quarantine. Travelers who are not exempt from quarantine are not allowed to rent a car.
To find out more about the pre-travel testing program, click here.
For the Safe Travels website, click here.