| USA TODAY
Travelers arrive in Hawaii after COVID pre-testing
About 8,000 people landed in Hawaii on the first day of a pre-travel testing program that allowed travelers to come to the islands without quarantining for two weeks if they could produce a negative coronavirus test. (Oct. 16)
Less than two weeks after Hawaii began welcoming back visitors from the mainland, Hawaiian Airlines says it’s reviving the longest domestic commercial flight in the United States.
The carrier announced in a press release last week that it’s bringing back its 5,095-mile Boston-Honolulu route in December. The nearly 12-hour flight isn’t the only route coming back to Hawaiian’s schedule: It will also offer service from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport to Honolulu, along with nonstop service between the islands and five California cities: Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Oakland and Long Beach. In fact, its entire 13-city U.S. mainland network is coming back.
Including their time at the airport, Hawaii-bound passengers could spend close to 14 hours in a mask just to get to the islands, which had been largely off limits since mid-March because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The good news: The return flight takes just 10 hours, 15 minutes.
Hawaii also requires visitors to obtain a negative COVID-19 test result within the 72 hours before their flight’s departure time if they wish to bypass a mandatory 14-day quarantine.
And yet thousands of travelers have already shown they are willing to do so: On the first day alone, 8,000 visitors arrived.
In an effort to streamline the process, Hawaiian and United Airlines both began offering tests to island-bound passengers when the program began on Oct. 15. Hawaiian’s testing setup focused on drive-through testing at facilities near LAX and San Francisco International Airport, while United allowed customers to choose between a rapid test on the day of travel or an at-home test that would be overnighted to the lab.
USA TODAY has reached out to Hawaiian to see whether it plans to expand its testing program to more airports.
Other travel requirements include completing Hawaii’s Safe Travels form and providing the state with contact information and local accommodations.
Once in Hawaii, there may be additional hurdles depending on the island and its COVID-19 situation.
Because of a surging infection rate on the island of Lanai, Maui County has requested permission from Gov. David Ige to implement a stay-at-home order for that area beginning at 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday. If it’s approved, nonessential travel to Lanai would be restricted, and tourists would have to quarantine for 14 days.
“For now, we recommend that residents and visitors, who are able, immediately shelter in place at their home or place of lodging,” said Maui Mayor Michael Victorino, whose county now has a 2.8% positivity rate, which is .05% higher than the statewide average. “Trips outside should be for essential needs only, such as purchasing food, or medical visits. Everyone must wear masks in public.”
The Big Island of Hawaii has the state’s highest seven-day positivity rate at 3.4%, while Kauai, which has the lowest rate at 0.2%, is now incentivizing visitors to voluntarily retest once arriving there. After Ige rejected Kauai plan to order a second test, it began offering visitors who voluntarily take a second test a $150 gift certificate good at local businesses.
Hawaii finally reopens: But you’ll have to jump through a lot of hoops first
Contributing: The Associated Press