Hawaii saw over 8000 out of state tourists arrive on reopening day after the 14 quarantine measure was dropped in lieu of COVID-19 PCR testing.
State Department of Transportation spokesman, Tim Sakahara said that 30 flights carrying 8000 passengers from out of state arrived in Honolulu on Thursday.
Before the pandemic hit, the airport would see close to 100 flights a day but given that fact it was almost a 30% recovery on the first day was a positive sign for tourism in Hawaii.
According to Hawaii Airport Data, 51 transpacific flights arrived on Thursday with a capacity of 10319 seats. Of those, roungly 80% were filled.
Lt. Gov. Josh Green said the start of the State’s new pre-arrival testing program was off to an ‘extraordinary’ start according to local Honolulu news.
Sakahara did state that some of the passenger traffic may have been due to pent up demand while travelers waited for the 14 day quarantine to be dropped.
Up until Thursday, all incoming passengers arriving in Hawaii faced a mandatory 14 day quarantine upon arrival.
As of October 15th, 2020, all Incoming travelers must have a valid COVID-19 Nucleic Acid Amplification Test (NAAT) within 72 hours of boarding their final flight to Hawaii and must show proof of a negative test result upon arrival at the airport.
Failure to present the test will result in a mandatory 14 day self quarantine. Hawaii has very strict rules regarding the quarantine including fines up to $5,000 and a year in jail.
All countries will be allowed to enter Hawaii under regular pre-pandemic entry rules with the exception of Brazil, China, Europe and the UK as they were banned by President Trump when the pandemic began.
While some critics have argued that reopening Hawaii for tourism could bring a new surge of infections, Lieutenant Governor Josh Green, said that the economic strain of keeping Hawaii closed can’t go on any longer and outweighs the potential health risks.
Some County mayors have argued that there should be follow up tests for passengers arriving to secondary islands but Governor David Ige said that logistics and costs would fall upon those counties.
The main island of Hawaii has already approved a rapid secondary test upon arrival which takes about 15 minutes for results. Any positive rapid test will result in the immediate quarantine of the traveler followed up with the more accurate PCR swab test which could take upwards of 36 hours. Travelers found positive will have to remain in quarantine until test results are completed.
On Oahu, which is Hawaii’s most populated island, officials have stated they wanted to implement another layer of testing but didn’t have the resources.
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