Rising coronavirus cases have led Hawaii to institute stricter requirements for any visitors traveling to the state starting next week.
Governor David Ige announced Thursday that anyone flying to Hawaii must have a negative COVID-19 test result prior to boarding a flight to the state.
The new rule goes into effect Tuesday, just two days before Thanksgiving. Hawaii normally experiences an increase in visitors during the time period many Americans have time off from work and school.
“We’re taking this added safety precaution now in response to the dramatically increasing number of COVID-19 cases in the continental United States and around the world,” Ige said in a statement. “The health of our residents and visitors is our primary concern, especially as more people travel to Hawaii to celebrate the holidays.”
Prior to this new rule, passengers flying to Hawaii had been allowed to arrive and upload their negative test results to a state database. Those who failed to do so were required to quarantine for 14 days after their arrival.
Ige said there had been several incidents of travelers arriving without their test results and later testing positive.
Since the pandemic began, Hawaii has recorded nearly 17,000 positive cases and 222 deaths from COVID-19. The vast majority of the cases — about 95 percent — have been residents. About 86 percent of the cases have been on the island of Oahu, home to about 1 million of the state’s 1.4 million residents.
Under the new rules, passengers who arrive without a negative test result from what Ige called a trusted partner will not be allowed to skip quarantine even if a negative result occurs shortly after arrival.
Since the pandemic began, visitors have had the option of bypassing testing and quarantining for 14 days upon arrival. That option will remain.
Ige also announced that beginning in mid-December, travelers flying in from Canada may bypass the mandatory 14-day quarantine if they take a COVID-19 test from labs approved by Air Canada and WestJet. The test must be taken within 72 hours of travel to Hawaii, and a negative test result must be received prior to departure.
“Many Canadians love to visit Hawaii during the winter months to escape the cold weather, so the timing for this works well,” Ige said. “Hawaii has the most rigorous pre-travel testing program in the United States, and we’re grateful to Air Canada and WestJet for making it available to their passengers.”