Government Considering Opening Up Interisland Travel

Hawai‘i is now in the “Act with Care,” phase two of the overall, “Beyond Recovery,” reopening strategy for the state.

Governor Ige announced at an afternoon news briefing that he has been working closely with the counties on opening up businesses and activities, and lifting the 14-day quarantine for interisland travel is top-of-mind for many people.

Governor Ige said, “Health measures are pointing in the right direction to make this move…with infection levels appearing to be under control across the state.”

He explained this is important to avoid a high level of cases in one county from impacting another county as people begin to travel. Key issues under discussion with the counties and airlines include, screening, testing, contact tracing and physical distancing.

The governor concluded, “We are also going through the process of identifying other potential issues and welcome any thoughts or suggestions.”

Governor Ige said when the interisland travel quarantine is lifted there will likely be additional COVID-19 cases, and we have the capacity to handle it. If a new surge occurs, some restrictions might need to be reinstated. He encouraged everyone to continue engaging in best practies like maintaining social distancing, washing hands, wearing masks, avoiding large gatherings and staying home when sick.

Healthcare Capacity in Good Shape for Resumption of Interisland Travel

Governor Ige commended Lt. Governor Josh Green for his role in establishing a free clinic in Kalihi to help those who’ve been economically impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

At the news briefing Green reported Hawai‘i has had 68 new coronavirus cases in the past month (since April 21) and 21 cases in the past two weeks.

He said the state’s hospital system is in great shape, with 39% of intensive care unit beds occupied, 51% of total hospital beds in use, and only 9% of the available ventilators in use. He also indicated that the supply of personal protective equipment for healthcare workers is adequate, but a team he is leading is continually monitoring and ordering additional PPE as needed.

Additionally the team is working to build up inventory in the event of a “worst case scenario”… a major outbreak in the state.

He says from a medical standpoint, we need to continue to rely on public health officials to provide guidance on when it’s safe to lift quarantines. From a compassion standpoint he talked about several recent incidents in which family members needed to fly between islands for sick or dying relatives.

Health Considerations for Travel Between Islands

DOH Director, Dr. Bruce Anderson revealed conditions that will be necessary for lifting interisland travel restrictions. He said the health department is actively working with a variety of partners like the departments of transportation and attorney general on requirements aimed at minimizing risks.

  • Disease incidence remains low and capacity to investigate and quickly respond to new cases
  • Accurate and complete passenger declaration forms are submitted
  • Passengers subject to mandatory quarantine are identified and final destination confirmed
  • Departure thermal screening
  • Passengers with elevated temperatures are not allowed to board, evaluated, and offered testing if appropriate

Anderson added that it is critically important to maintain the 14-day quarantine for mainland visitors. He said once the procedures are finalized and implemented, lifting the 14-day quarantine for interisland travel will provide a good test to determine the risks and concerns with opening up travel from domestic and international destinations.

Department of Transportation:

More on Lifting the Interisland Quarantine

DOT is proactively researching thermal temperature scanning equipment, after the legislature helped secure funds to cover some of the costs. He reiterated some of the conditions that will be necessary for reopening of interisland travel: temperature checks and new specific interisland travel forms. He said additional discussions are ongoing to identify other potential issues. Sakahara also thanked members of the Hawai‘i National Guard for their help in taking the temperatures of all airport passengers.

Hawai‘i island has three (3) new cases of COVID-19 and Maui has one (1) new coronavirus case. Three of the most recently reported cases are adults and one is a minor. Three are Hawai‘i residents and one is a non-resident.

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