Green to residents: Take longer trips

  • Josh Green

Hawaii’s lieutenant governor is advising residents to avoid taking short trips out of state after quarantine requirements for trans-Pacific travelers loosen Aug. 1.

“My preference — and it’s not one that people love to hear, but I’m not going to shy away from real advice — but my preference is, people: Do not take those short trips right now,” Josh Green said Friday during a livestream. “Because those short trips put you at risk, it puts us at risk for extra surges in Hawaii, which could shut us all down.”

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Green explained that the details of the planned policies for managing the COVID-19 pandemic in the state after the 14-day mandatory quarantine for out-of-state arrivals are still being worked out. However, a proposed policy for residents returning from short trips could put overwhelming pressure on the state’s testing capabilities.

That policy, as Green explained it, would require residents returning from short trips — six days or less — out of state to take a COVID-19 test upon arrival and self-quarantine for the three or four days until the test results come in. But, because residents make up 15% of all trans-Pacific arrivals, that would require the state to use more than 2,000 COVID test kits each day just on returning residents alone.

“We don’t have infinite tests,” Green said. “We’d have to commit about 2,200 tests a day to clear them.”

Instead, Green recommended that people leaving the state simply commit to longer trips.

Residents returning from out of state after more than six days will be required to either have a negative COVID-19 test from within 72 hours of arrival in Hawaii or submit to a 14-day quarantine — the same requirement for out-of-state visitors.

This policy, Green explained, would spare Hawaii the burden of using tests on returning residents.

“If you’re going take risks, you may as well get your money’s worth,” Green said, referring to longer trips.

Currently, the proposed policy does not require children to be tested, only parents, Green said, because children have had significantly lower rates of COVID-19 infection than adults.

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Green said the final details of the out-of-state travel policies will be nailed down within the next 10 days.

Email Michael Brestovansky at mbrestovansky@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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