An extra layer of protection against coronavirus is being added for anyone traveling to Maui in the near future.
Travelers from the mainland headed to Maui are already required to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of departure. In the coming days, they also will be subject to a coronavirus test once they arrive at Kahului Airport.
Anyone refusing the test will be forced to quarantine for 10 days after arrival.
Mayor Michael Victorino said the number of infected residents on the island is on the rise again, and he and health officials would like to know if tourism is the reason.
“This secondary test has been designed to determine if visitors and returning residents are contributing to the large rate of COVID-19 here in Maui,” Victorino said, according to the Maui News.
According to Hawaii’s Department of Health, Maui is currently seeing about 24 new cases a day and a 3.2 percent positivity rate. Although most are attributed to community spread, Victorino and health officials worry that tourism is contributing to the uptick.
What state and island officials will do if that is the case hasn’t been determined, he said.
“Until we do the testing and get the facts on the table, I’ll reserve any comments other than we will look at it as the results come in and we see the actual statistics,” Victorino said.
The county will cover costs for the rapid tests upon arrival.
“We’re willing to cover the cost to make sure our returning residents and visitors are tested and that we know that they’re coming in safe,” he said.
The mayor expects the rapid testing program to be in place in the next week or two. Officials are in the process of hiring a firm to conduct the tests and figure out the process.
Those unwilling to take the test will be subject to quarantine, he said.
If you don’t want to say you got fully vaccinated or you feel that’s a right not to have to be fully vaccinated and still travel, you can, but you’re automatically going to go into 10-day quarantine,” he said. “You know, there are choices. We’re giving you the choices. We’re not making the decision for you.”