Mayor: Interisland pre-travel test may be coming
A pre-travel COVID-19 testing program for interisland flyers to bypass quarantine “could be the prelude” to the program for trans-Pacific flyers, set to begin Oct. 15, Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino said Monday afternoon.
There are a “few more details” to work out, but the programs are similar, Victorino said. He said county mayors and Gov. David Ige were discussing the pre-travel testing program for interisland flyers, and Victorino anticipated an announcement from the governor to come before the end of the week.
Currently, those flying to the Neighbor Islands need to quarantine for 14 days. Travelers to Oahu do not need to quarantine.
The two-week quarantine protocols are in place for trans-Pacific travelers into the state. There is a quarantine exception for essential workers, but they are restricted to going between work and their place of lodging.
Ige announced the pre-travel testing program last week. Visitors from out of state may bypass the quarantine if they test negative for COVID-19 prior to travel. Travelers will have to take the test within 72 hours before their flight to the islands.
Ige said drugstore CVS and health care provider Kaiser Permanente will conduct the tests as part of an agreement with the state.
Victorino said that Ige has formed a working group, which also includes top county officials, for the trans-Pacific pre-travel testing program.
County Managing Director Sandy Baz said Monday at the news conference that the state now has a new web-based quarantine exemption process for all trans-Pacific travelers, including those who travel from out-of-state to Maui and returning residents.
The new web process replaces the email request program. The website is travelexemption.hawaii.gov.
But interisland travelers arriving into Maui County and seeking a limited quarantine exemption, such as heading to essential jobs or doctor appointments, still need to submit their requests to MauiCounty.gov.
Like Kauai, Victorino said Maui County is working on a resort bubble, where trans-Pacific visitors can stay at a hotel during their quarantine period and partake of resort amenities, rather than being stuck in their rooms. He expected an announcement about the program in the next week or so.
In other COVID-19 developments:
• Victorino said he will not restore senior programs even if they can be conducted outdoors because they are “the most vulnerable group.” In responding to a question The Maui News received from a reader, the mayor said he would restore those programs, including Kaunoa Senior Services, when he felt it was safe and proper protocols and procedures could be put in place.
• The mayor reminded residents to take advantage of the state’s rental relief and housing assistance program, which is for full-time Hawaii residents who have lost income directly due to the pandemic and have a household income not exceeding the area median income. For other requirements, information and how to apply, go to hihousinghelp.com or call Aloha United Way at 211.
There were only 42 COVID-19 tests administered Monday at a West Maui testing clinic at the Lahaina Aquatic Center.
“I strongly encourage our residents to take advantage of those drive-thru programs,” Victorino said. “We got to keep testing. This is one way we can prevent spread from occurring when we do these testings.
“This is not (the) time to let your guard down.”
* Melissa Tanji can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.