Hawaii will allow travelers to visit the islands without requiring a 14-day quarantine starting Aug. 1, state officials announced Wednesday, requiring visitors instead to provide a negative coronavirus test result taken no more than 72 hours before arrival.
Hawaii shut down nearly all travel in March as coronavirus cases spread throughout the mainland U.S. and globe, requiring mandatory quarantine with harsh penalties. The state extended those restrictions several times, most recently through July.
And though case counts are still on the rise in the mainland U.S., Gov. David Ige said a new testing requirement will allow the state to safely restart travel – a critical part of Hawaii’s economy.
“We’ve all sacrificed in our community, all taken personal responsibility in this fight against COVID-19 and are now ready to begin the process of returning our economy in a safe and healthy way,” Ige said at Honolulu (HNL) airport Wednesday, according to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.
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Exactly how the testing requirements will work is unclear. But providing an approved negative test will allow visitors to bypass the mandatory quarantine requirement.
Still, that could be tricky for many travelers – getting a test with results within 72 hours may be difficult. Lt Gov. Josh Green said Hawaii is in discussions to launch a nationwide testing protocol with CVS Pharmacy. The testing requirements are similar to how Alaska has handled visitors, except Hawaii does not plan to require a second negative test after arriving.
Even with the testing requirements, it’s a welcome change for travelers worried about being shut out of Hawaii longer. After Hawaii implemented the 14-day quarantine on March 26, the number of visitors arriving to the islands dropped from more than 25,000 daily to under 1,000.
Ige had previously suggested that the state would first open a “travel bubble” by allowing visitors from Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and South Korea – but not from the mainland. Officials backed away from that idea, favoring a broader reopening with testing requirements.
Hawaii is ready to welcome travelers back – and that’s welcome news for many travelers. Expect more news from Hawaii in the coming weeks about how they may help streamline the testing process to make it easier to get a negative test result in time for your trip.