Though the two-week quarantine for interisland travelers has been lifted, Gov. David Ige warned Monday that it may be reinstated if the number of COVID-19 cases in the state rises too high.
At a news conference Monday, Ige said the mandatory 14-day quarantine for interisland travelers, which he implemented in March at the onset of the global pandemic, may be reinstated if the statewide number of COVID-19 cases doubles each week for four weeks.
“Exponential increase in virus activity implies that the virus is out of control,” Ige said. “So, the notion of the number of cases doubling in the incubation period for two consecutive incubation periods — translated, a doubling every week for four consecutive weeks — is what the scientists would say signals a definite increase in activity that we would want to say ‘let’s pause and re-look at it.’”
However, Ige added, there is some leeway in how the number of cases is calculated. A large number of cases emerging from a single site, for example, is less troubling than an equivalent number of unconnected cases emerging in completely different areas in a single county, he said, because the latter implies widespread infection.
As the state opens up its economy after months of lockdown, the number of statewide cases has risen precipitously over the last several days, spiking on June 13 when 17 new cases were reported. However, Ige said, those cases were largely connected with a single cluster of cases, which helped the state to contain the outbreak.
While Ige and state Department of Health Director Bruce Anderson said Monday that they are anticipating an increase in cases as interisland travel resumes, measures are being put in place to control the spread of the virus as much as possible.
Ige said airlines will continue to limit the number of passengers on any given flight to better maintain social distancing.
Meanwhile, the DOH has implemented a new mandatory procedure for all travelers, including a preflight mandatory traveler health form and a health screening before boarding. The health form, which requires travelers to submit personal information such as recent vaccinations and COVID-19 tests, as well as personal health symptoms, can be found at health.hawaii.gov/travel.
The health screening, meanwhile, will include temperature scans of all passengers, while infrared cameras will take passengers’ temperatures as they disembark.
Ige advised travelers to arrive at the airport earlier than usual to allow time for the additional procedures.
While Ige acknowledged that reopening interisland flights has introduced a significantly higher workload for state and travel workers, he added the state might be able reopen trans-Pacific flights in August.
“We will announce a date when we are ready to,” Ige said. “We are committed to working through all of these details so we can assure the public that when we bring trans-Pacific travelers, we will be doing it in a safe manner that does not increase measurably the risk of them getting infected with COVID.”
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