The state of Hawaii is preparing to relax some of the stringent pandemic restrictions that have battered its tourism industry, including a requirement that incoming travelers be quarantined for 14 days.
From October 15, travelers can skip the quarantine if they can show a negative virus test result from an approved source that was created no later than 72 hours before departure. The pre-trip testing program was scheduled to begin in the summer but was postponed when the virus rose in the islands.
Travelers who do not wish to be tested can opt to quarantine instead and raise concerns that untested travelers could infect tested passengers on flights to the islands.
A negative test is not a guarantee of a lack of infection: it can take several days after exposure for the amount of virus in an infected person’s body to become high enough to produce a positive result. The state said it would randomly test 10 percent of arriving passengers four days after arriving to gauge the plan’s effectiveness.
Hawaii has reported more than 13,000 cases of the virus and more than 160 deaths, according to a New York Times database. The state will continue to require the wearing of a mask in public, and some inter-island travel will remain restricted.
The new measures are designed to help revitalize the state’s tourism industry, which accounts for around a quarter of its economy. The Hawaii Tourism Authority reported in August that trips to the islands were down nearly 98 percent in the previous month compared to the same month in 2019.
“It is important that people know that we will welcome them as long as they have received their test,” said Lt. Gov. Josh Green told The Associated Press. Mr. Green, an emergency doctor, is leading the new testing program. He recently recovered from Covid-19.