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Interisland travel without quarantine begins June 16

Forms have to be filled out and temperatures checked before takeoff

Gov. David Ige announced the lifting of the 14-day quarantine on interisland flights beginning June 16. Flyers must fill out a mandatory form, face temperature checks and be required to wear masks. The governor is shown during a news conference in April. AP photos

Interisland travelers will be able to fly without quarantine requirements beginning June 16, but travelers must fill out a mandatory travel form and get a thermal temperature reading as part of the new airport screening process, Gov. David Ige announced Monday.

Lt. Gov. Josh Green said Hawaii’s low number of new COVID-19 cases, no deaths over the past four weeks and a 95.7 percent recovery rate drove the decision to end the 14-day self-quarantine on interisland travel ordered April 1.

No new cases were reported in Hawaii at noon Monday.

“This is an opportunity for families from outer islands to reconnect with one another, to be reunited,” Ige said during a state news briefing Monday afternoon at the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport. “This is an important step for reopening our kamaaina economy. We have systems in place to protect your health.

“This is the perfect opportunity for all of us to take a Neighbor Island trip and visit someplace without the tens of thousands of visitors from around the world here with us.”

Hawaiian Airlines, the main interisland carrier, currently has five round trips a day between Honolulu and Kahului and two flights each to Lanai and Molokai. The airline said it will increase capacity based on demand with planes pegged to fly with no more than 70 percent capacity to maintain distancing.

Green warned that residents should be prepared for a likely increase in coronavirus cases in Hawaii over the next few weeks and months as traveling resumes, but people “should not be alarmed.”

“This is the nature of living with COVID-19 until we see major progress on a treatment or vaccine,” Green said.

There will be some new requirements, established by the state Department of Transportation.

Flyers are required to fill out a health and travel declaration form, which must be presented and verified at an airport checkpoint. After the form is verified, it also will be cross-checked with the current database of people on travel quarantine. To save time, declaration forms can be filled out in advance, state officials advised.

The form will include questions about general health, where travelers plan on staying and other details that would help the Department of Health to conduct contact tracing if necessary and to monitor COVID-19 as people start moving between islands.

Travelers also will be required to take a thermal temperature reading and will be prohibited from boarding a flight if their temperature is above 100.4 degrees.

Flyers who refuse to complete the mandatory form or currently are on the 14-day quarantine list will be prohibited from flying. Residents traveling between islands before June 16 still are subject to the 14-day quarantine.

“This will be new for a lot of people, and we want to make sure that people can start thinking about what it will look like, the time it might take, and the information we’ll be asking of them,” Attorney General Clare Connors said.

Announcements about lifting the quarantine for out-of-state flights are coming next week, Ige said. For now, travelers from out of state still are required to self-isolate for 14 days before traveling between islands.

Ige said last week that he was extending the quarantine on trans-Pacific flights into July.

The governor said he is determining a target date “when we can invite more of our guests,” but the state is remaining mindful and cautious about which Mainland communities are still coping and experiencing the impacts of COVID-19.

“We are definitely focused on our next steps, making plans and having discussions about out-of-state travel and trans-Pacific travel,” he said. “Other economies have opened and have seen second spikes and increasing outbreaks.”

With Neighbor Island travel reopening with less restrictions, Hawaiian Airlines President Peter Ingram said that the main interisland carrier will adjust flight schedules and “expand as we need to.”

There are currently five round trips a day each between Honolulu and Hilo, Kahului, Kona and Lihue — compared to 80 flights per day pre-COVID — and two round trips a day each to Lanai and Molokai airports, Ingram said. Hawaiian planes, currently, have been flying at 20 to 30 percent capacity on average.

“We will increase capacity in line with demand,” he said, “and keeping in mind that, while normally my objective is to try and fill as many seats as possible on every airplane, we’ll probably go a little heavier in terms of scheduling at this point so that airplanes can maintain that ‘less fullness’ and cap our load factors about 70 percent on the Neighbor Island airplanes.”

Ingram said that Hawaiian Airlines will be taking a “travel with confidence approach,” which entails more safety protocols for flyers. There are plexiglass dividers at all customer service counters, markings and signs for travelers to follow and digital ticketing to reduce contact, as well as heightened cleaning procedures on airplanes and boarding operations.

There are also aircraft capacity restrictions to ensure social distancing between nonhousehold members, and all passengers are required to wear a mask.

“You can rest assured that when we start welcoming more guests back that haven’t been here with us for a few months, you’re going to see things differently, and you’re going to have different procedures to understand,” he said. “But we want to make sure that you feel comfortable when we welcome you back, boarding comfortably and traveling with confidence.”

* Dakota Grossman can be reached at dgrossman@mauinews.com.

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