Empty resorts, rental cars parked in open fields and uncrowded beaches have been the reality for Maui residents over the last 5 months. That being said, many Maui residents have been eagerly awaiting the start of Hawaii's pre-travel testing program, which signifies a huge step forward for normalizing the tourism industry and revitalizing the economy.
In a press release earlier this week, Governor David Ige announced that the pre-travel testing program will officially begin on October 15th. This is still a two week delay from the original date of October 1st, and 2 month delay from when the program was set to first launch, but many Hawaii residents are still seeing this as significant forward progress.
The pre-travel testing program involves multiple layers of testing and screening working in unison to detect anyone with a fever before they even leave the airport. If a traveler is able to obtain a negative COVID-19 test no earlier than 72 hours before flying then they will be able to forgo the 14-day mandatory quarantine. The vendors currently administering the test are CVS and Kaiser Permanente. Travelers are responsible for the cost of their own test which can range from $100 - $140 for a nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT). Lt. Governor Josh Green who is spearheading the pre-travel testing program said that arriving passengers can wait for their test results here in Hawaii, but they must remain in quarantine while doing so.
The tourism and lodging industries throughout the state have been biding their time awaiting the launch of this program, as it signifies a light at the end of the tunnel for Hawaii’s economic woes. Key leadership in the hotel industry has been reorganizing, sanitizing, and adjusting the way they do business to provide the cleanest environment for incoming travelers.
Maui Mayor Michael Victorino is obviously excited to see the flow of tourists once again begin to grow, but has some reservations about how often incoming travelers should be tested, “We’re set to open if that’s what he’s saying. We are ready to do that. I am still pushing for sandwich tests before you come–72 hours; and testing after you arrive to make sure that if you’re COVID-free when you leave, you’re COVID-free when you’re here, and you’re COVID-free when you go home. So I think this is very important as we reopen Maui County.”
A mandatory 14-day quarantine remains in effect for inter-island travel until September 30th.