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State to launch pre-travel testing program Oct. 15

A Hawaiian Airlines jet approaches Kahului Airport in July. Gov. David Ige said Wednesday that the state will launch its pre-travel testing program for trans-Pacific travelers on Oct. 15. The Maui News MATTHEW THAYER photo

Gov. David Ige has announced that the state will launch its long-anticipated pre-travel testing program on Oct. 15, allowing trans-Pacific travelers to bypass the state’s 14-day mandatory quarantine if they can show proof of a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of travel.

“This pre-travel testing will allow us to add a greater element of safety for travel into our state,” Ige said during a news conference on Wednesday afternoon. “Pre-travel testing is just one of many things we have to do that fall into our three priority areas of health, the economy and the community.”

Lt. Gov. Josh Green explained that arriving passengers would have to take a nucleic acid amplification test (the nasal swab) no more than 72 hours prior to traveling. If they test negative, they can bypass the quarantine. If results are not available by the time they arrive in Hawaii, they will have to stay in quarantine until they get their results.

The requirement will apply to all arriving passengers, including children of all ages, and travelers will need to pay for the tests themselves. No commercial testing will be provided at Hawaii’s airports as of now, said Green, who joined the news conference from home after testing positive for the virus five days ago.

Ige said that the state has agreements with CVS and Kaiser Permanente, who will offer the tests, with more partners to be announced in the coming weeks. Green said the test will likely cost around $139 with CVS and has been priced at $120 to $140 in different parts of the country.

The governor also said he was continuing talks with the mayors about an interisland pre-travel testing program proposed by state lawmakers earlier this month as a pilot for the trans-Pacific testing program. He said there is a task force with representatives from each county discussing what that type of program might look like and how the state would carry it out.

Neither he nor Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino gave a specific date for lifting the partial interisland travel quarantine.

“We’ll end it somewhere along the line,” Victorino said during a county news conference on Wednesday afternoon. “But right now, until the numbers get more manageable <\q>.<\q>.<\q>. the interisland quarantine or the travel will remain the same, but we’ll be integrating both programs.”

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