Ige: State ‘will probably not’ reopen Oct. 1 with loosened restrictions for out-of-state visitors

State restrictions on travel to Hawaii are unlikely to be loosened by Oct. 1, Gov. David Ige said today.

Throughout the pandemic, Ige had discussed a pre-travel testing program whereby out-of-state travelers could submit a negative COVID-19 test to avoid the mandatory 14-day quarantine upon arrival in Hawaii.

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The implementation of that program has been repeatedly delayed as the pandemic worsened in the state.

“Talking with many in the industry, it will probably not be Oct. 1,” Ige said during an online interview.

While the infrastructure is in place for the state’s pre-testing program, with travelers submitting health verification forms online, Ige said that hotels and other businesses in the tourism industry will require at least a month of lead time in order to rehire staff and become ready for incoming visitors. He added that, within the next few days, he will announce more concrete plans for when the state will reopen further to out-of-state travelers.

Lt. Gov. Josh Green had said last week that he believed the state likely could reopen on Oct. 1. Green has since contracted COVID-19.

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Meanwhile, Ige said the state processed more than 100,000 applicants for the federal $300 Lost Wages Assistance unemployment program over the weekend. He said the state has paid out more than $3 billion in unemployment insurance and pandemic unemployment insurance claims since March.

He also reassured residents that changes to the state’s unemployment processing apparatus will allow claims to be processed more quickly in the coming weeks.