Hawaii’s governor on Wednesday announced that the state’s 14-day quarantine requirement for out-of-state visitors amid the coronavirus outbreak will include a pre-travel testing option beginning Aug. 1.
Gov. David Ige, a Democrat, said the revision would help the state’s vital tourism industry recover without posing a significant risk in new coronavirus cases, Hawaii News Now reported.
“We recognize that there are many concerns that continue,” Ige said at a news conference. “We believe this process of pre-testing does allow us to bring travelers back to Hawaii in a way that maintains a priority on the health and safety of our community.”
“We believe this process of pre-testing does allow us to bring travelers back to Hawaii in a way that maintains a priority on the health and safety of our community.”
— Hawaii Gov. David Ige
Hawaii Gov. David Ige speaks to reporters at the state Department of Health’s laboratory in Pearl City, Hawaii, March 3, 2020. (Associated Press)
Ige announced the policy revision as the state faced a lawsuit over the original policy. That legal action, filed by Nevada and California residents, claimed the Hawaii quarantine policy represented “an infringement on the right to travel.”
The lawsuit has drawn support from the U.S. Justice Department, which said in a statement that state governments “cannot limit the right of out-of-state Americans to travel to their state unless doing so is substantially related to protecting the public safety.”
Under Hawaii’s revision, beginning Aug. 1 out-of-state travelers can avoid the state’s 14-day quarantine requirement if they can provide proof of a negative test for the coronavirus within 72 hours of travel, Hawaii News Now reported.
Those who cannot produce proof of a negative test would still be required to quarantine for 14 days upon arriving in Hawaii, the Star Advertiser of Honolulu reported.
A similar pre-testing program in Alaska shows the plan can work, Ige said, according to Hawaii News Now. Alaska also provides testing for passengers upon landing there but Ige said that was not a practical plan for Hawaii.
It was not immediately clear if the planned Aug. 1 revision would have an effect on the lawsuit filed against Hawaii’s quarantine rule.
Hawaii’s state Attorney General’s Office has defended the policy, it and “the subsequent proclamations were properly and lawfully issued pursuant to the Governor’s statutory authority and his determination that an emergency exists due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the danger and threat it poses to Hawaii.”
As of Wednesday, Hawaii had confirmed 835 coronavirus cases with 686 recoveries, and recorded 17 deaths, the Star Advertiser reported. The state’s figures ranked among the lowest in the nation.