Ige: Interisland travel could open by end of year

  • David Ige

Gov. David Ige said during a news conference Monday that he believes the state may be able to resume unrestricted interisland travel by the end of the year if the number of daily COVID-19 cases continues to drop.

Even though trans-Pacific travelers are now permitted to skip the 14-day quarantine if they received a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours before arriving in the state — and, in the Big Island’s case, an additional negative result from a test immediately after landing — interisland travelers are still required to quarantine for two weeks after traveling to any island that is not Oahu.

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“The number of new cases here on Oahu has been trending lower for the last four weeks,” Ige said Monday. “We do anticipate that if we keep on that trend it could be possible by the end of the year that the inter-county quarantine would be ended because the virus activity in each of the counties would be similar.”

Ige said that he and the neighbor island mayors are working on plans to allow for interisland travelers to skip the quarantine with a negative pre-flight test taken 72 hours before arrival. The Maui and Kauai county mayors are on board with the plan, Ige said, but he added that Mayor Harry Kim is reluctant to do so without additional safety measures.

“One of the challenges on Hawaii Island is that they are seeing a surge in cases,” Ige said, adding that the rate of new cases on the island has, per capita, exceeded that of Oahu in recent weeks.

Meanwhile, the additional post-arrival test implemented by Hawaii County last week for trans-Pacific arrivals might be utilized on the other islands as well.

Maui and Kauai have already implemented free, voluntary post-flight testing programs, and Ige said Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell is looking into incorporating a similar program at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport, but added that managing such tests in Honolulu would be a vastly more complicated task than on the neighbor islands.

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More than 20,000 travelers arrived in the state over the weekend, Ige said, the majority of whom did so in Honolulu.

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

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