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Tens of thousands arrive in Hawaii with pre-travel testing

Hawaii Lt. Gov Josh Green speaks at a press conference at the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020, in Honolulu. A new pre-travel testing program will allow visitors who test negative for COVID-19 to come to Hawaii and avoid two weeks of mandatory quarantine goes into effect Thursday. The pandemic has caused a devastating downturn on Hawaii's tourism-based economy. Coronavirus weary residents and struggling business owners in Hawaii will be watching closely as tourists begin to return to the islands.
Hawaii Lt. Gov Josh Green speaks at a press conference at the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020, in Honolulu. A new pre-travel testing program will allow visitors who test negative for COVID-19 to come to Hawaii and avoid two weeks of mandatory quarantine goes into effect Thursday. The pandemic has caused a devastating downturn on Hawaii’s tourism-based economy. Coronavirus weary residents and struggling business owners in Hawaii will be watching closely as tourists begin to return to the islands.Marco Garcia/AP

HONOLULU (AP) — Hawaii had about 60,000 travelers arrive in the islands in the first week of its pre-travel coronavirus testing program, a state effort to get the tourism-based economy moving again amid the pandemic.

Lt. Gov. Josh Green, a Democrat, said at a news conference Thursday that 58,611 people had been screened since the Oct. 15 launch. Of those visitors — including returning residents, military members, essential workers, tourists and others — 49,791 tested negative for the coronavirus and were allowed to skip the previously required two weeks of quarantine.

People who can produce a negative test result within 72 hours of their flight to Hawaii are eligible. Test results from one of the state’s “trusted partners” — a group of clinics, pharmacies and airlines — must be uploaded to a government website upon arrival.

Some people came to Hawaii with the wrong kind of test. The state accepts only negative nucleic acid amplification tests. Other travelers chose to come to Hawaii without being tested at all.


Nearly 7,300 people on the first week’s flights were ordered to quarantine.

On Oahu, the state’s most populated island and home of Waikiki Beach, police issued about 8,400 warning and 885 citations for people not wearing masks or other coronavirus-related violations since Oct. 15, the first day of the testing program.

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Associated Press writer Jennifer Sinco Kelleher contributed to this report.

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Thousands arrive in Hawaii on first day of pre-travel testing

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Tourists heading to Hawaii can now avoid the island’s 14-day quarantine if they take a state-approved COVID-19 test before arrival. The first passengers under the new rules left San Francisco International Airport on Thursday morning. (Oct. 15)

AP Domestic

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.

Angela Margos was among the first passengers in San Francisco to get on a plane to Hawaii Thursday morning.

“Vacation, peace of mind,” said Margos, a nurse from San Carlos, California, of why she’s flying to Hawaii. “I need time to relax, unwind.”

The new testing program is an effort to stem the devastating downturn the pandemic has had on Hawaii’s tourism-based economy. Officials had touted the mandatory quarantine rule as an integral part of Hawaii’s early success in keeping the coronavirus at bay.

But gaps in the pre-travel testing program coupled with increasing cases of COVID-19 across the U.S. have raised questions about whether Hawaii is ready to safely welcome back vacationers.

And when local restrictions were eased before summertime holidays, community spread of the disease spiked to alarming levels, forcing a second round of stay-at-home orders for residents and closures for non-essential businesses.

Margos ran into hiccups with getting her test. She first did it at the hospital where she works, only to find out it wasn’t an approved site for United Airlines and the state of Hawaii. She then paid $105 for a drive-thru test, but she was later informed there was an error with that test.

State officials assist visitors at the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020, in Honolulu. A new pre-travel testing program will allow visitors who test negative for COVID-19 to come to Hawaii and avoid two weeks of mandatory quarantine goes into effect Thursday. The pandemic has caused a devastating downturn on Hawaii’s tourism-based economy. Coronavirus weary residents and struggling business owners in Hawaii will be watching closely as tourists begin to return to the islands. (Photo: Marco Garcia, AP)

Margos ultimately paid $250 for a fast-result test Thursday at the airport in San Francisco, which came back negative.

Opponents of the testing program have said a single test 72 hours before arrival — especially when coupled with the option to fly without a test and still quarantine — is not enough to keep island residents safe.

Kathleen Miyashita and her husband were among those who came to Hawaii Thursday without getting tested. They said they plan to quarantine at their family’s farm on Oahu.

“We chose to do the 14-day quarantine,” Miyashita said. “We have no issues with having food being brought in. It’s like a quarantining haven in terms of having fresh fruits and vegetables at home.”

She said she and her husband were “not at all” concerned about being asymptomatic carriers of the disease.

“We’ve been traveling, and we just

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Thousands arrive in Hawaii on first day pre-travel testing

Honolulu (AP) — 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.

Angela Margos was among the first passengers in San Francisco to get on a plane to Hawaii Thursday morning.

“Vacation, peace of mind,” said Margos, a nurse from San Carlos, California, of why she’s flying to Hawaii. “I need time to relax, unwind.”

The new testing program is an effort to stem the devastating downturn the pandemic has had on Hawaii’s tourism-based economy. Officials had touted the mandatory quarantine rule as an integral part of Hawaii’s early success in keeping the coronavirus at bay.

But gaps in the pre-travel testing program coupled with increasing cases of COVID-19 across the U.S. have raised questions about whether Hawaii is ready to safely welcome back vacationers.


And when local restrictions were eased before summertime holidays, community spread of the disease spiked to alarming levels, forcing a second round of stay-at-home orders for residents and closures for non-essential businesses.

Margos ran into hiccups with getting her test. She first did it at the hospital where she works, only to find out it wasn’t an approved site for United Airlines and the state of Hawaii. She then paid $105 for a drive-thru test, but she was later informed there was an error with that test.

Margos ultimately paid $250 for a fast-result test Thursday at the airport in San Francisco, which came back negative.

Opponents of the testing program have said a single test 72 hours before arrival — especially when coupled with the option to fly without a test and still quarantine — is not enough to keep island residents safe.

Kathleen Miyashita and her husband were among those who came to Hawaii Thursday without getting tested. They said they plan to quarantine at their family’s farm on Oahu.

“We chose to do the 14-day quarantine,” Miyashita said. “We have no issues with having food being brought in. It’s like a quarantining haven in terms of having fresh fruits and vegetables at home.”

She said she and her husband were “not at all” concerned about being asymptomatic carriers of the disease.

“We’ve been traveling, and we just take precautions,” she said, adding that they had already done one quarantine in Hawaii about two months ago.

Hawaii’s economy is almost entirely built around tourism, and local families who rely on the sector to survive need to return to work.

More than 100 of Hawaii’s approximately 4,000 restaurants, bakeries and caterers have closed permanently and more than 50% predict they will not survive the coming months, officials have said.

Monica Toguchi Ryan, whose family has owned and operated The Highway Inn restaurant on Oahu for over 70 years, said the lack of tourism has been crippling.

“The restaurant and service industry has suffered so much during this pandemic,” Toguchi Ryan said. “Restaurants have not received any federal

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