Starting October 15, travelers arriving from out of state need not go for quarantine if they test negative for Covid 19 in Hawaii. Governor David Ige said on Wednesday that this would come into effect from the 15th of October and it will stop the 14-day quarantine requirement for travelers if they test negative for Covid 19. Travelers coming to Hawaii have to take the test within 72 hours before their flight lands in Hawaii. Governor Ige informed them that they have made arrangements with Kaiser Permanente and drugstore operator CVS to conduct the tests for travelers arriving in Hawaii.
The quarantine rule had come up in the month of March, and most of the tourism was eroded as visitors did not want to spend a 14-day mandatory quarantine to enjoy a few days of holidays in Hawaii. However, this move will now entice tourists to this destination, and it may see some growth in the near term. Ige had earlier planned to start a pre-travel testing program in the month of August, but it was cancelled as the number of cases spiked throughout the country. Apart from that, there was a shortage of testing kits, and this also led to further delays in implementing this program. Another scheduled start on the 1st of September was also delayed for the same reasons. However, as things are looking stable in the islands, the authorities are hopeful of reviving tourism in this region from the month of October. Governor Ige has authorized a resort bubble program for Kauai, and this was also supported by the Mayor Derek S K Kawakami who said that they are planning things to address the economic hardship faced by the tourism-based community. Along with that, they also plan to preserve the safety of local residents while reopening the region for tourist activities.
The resort bubble program will aid the region to reopen the economy as they learn to adapt to the current situation. Since March, tourism traffic has fallen by more than 90%, and this has resulted in lots of shutdown of local businesses, and many people are out of jobs in this region. Hawaii leaders believe that this pre-travel testing program will encourage travelers, and this will also satisfy the residents of Hawaii as all the safety precautions are taken in the proper manner before allowing people from other states. Lt Governor Josh Green said that this program would provide an economic opportunity during this situation and many people will get back their jobs. In the month of April, Hawaii had the third-worst unemployment rate only after Nevada and Michigan. Josh Green did not attend the news conference in person as he had tested positive for the disease, and he is currently isolating at home. He joined the news conference via Zoom and said that this is a positive step towards reopening the region for tourists from other states.
According to the data available from the state department of health in Hawaii, the average number of positive cases per day for the last week stood at 118 which is a positive sign as it was around 255 on August 28. This indicates that the virus is not growing rapidly, and things are under control in the region. When it comes to traveling between different islands during the mandatory quarantine, the state says that local counties can permit residents and tourists to travel between different islands without the restriction of 14-day mandatory quarantine. Authorities said that counties could even work with different hotels and resorts to house these travelers who opt for the program. Travelers should restrict their movement and limit their contact with people when they are under self-quarantine, and they must also allow electronic monitoring and access to health information. Travelers who plan to visit Hawaii should also fill the Safe Travels application online, and this is done separately for interisland travel and trans-pacific travel. This is done so that residents and visitors are safe during the pandemic and it will help the authorities to monitor the visitors and collect health-related information.
Most such tourism-based states have suffered a lot since the pandemic started spreading in the month of March. However, there is some hope for some regions when the number of cases is under control. Apart from that, the travel restrictions have also eased in many states, and it is now easy to fly across states without worrying about quarantine restrictions. Earlier, most people did not want to travel to holiday spots as they had to wait for 14 days in quarantine to move out of their hotels. This had reduced the tourism traffic to near-zero levels in the last few months. The upcoming holiday season in December can bring some significant relief to Hawaii and other tourism-based regions. As there is some positive news about the vaccine, they can easily expect a good inflow of visitors during this season. Even the visitors are stuck in a bad phase and have not travelled for many months. Some desperate tourists will now be waiting in line to visit such holiday spots to enjoy their year-end vacation. In this situation, Hawaii can quickly expect to regain lost ground if the number of cases remains under control.
As the state has taken up mandatory pre-travel testing programs, things are positive in every front as only those tourists who test negative will be allowed to visit the islands. In this way, the chances of the virus spreading are reduced to a large extent, and it can provide a safe environment even for the local residents of Hawaii. The authorities should now try to bring down the number of local cases with rampant testing and quarantine measures. If they are able to do this, the region can once again bounce back and reopen the economy in a complete way for the tourists. The upcoming holiday season holds the key for all these possibilities, and it would be interesting to see the trend of coronavirus cases during this season.