(BIVN) – Visitors returned to the Big Island on Thursday, working their way through a fortified Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport at Keahole, as the State of Hawaiʻi launched its pre-travel testing program.
From the Hawaiʻi COVID-19 Joint Information Center:
The Safe Travels Hawai‘i program has officially launched. The first trans-pacific flight arrived mid-day today. Under the Safe Travels Hawai‘i program, travelers now have the option of taking a Nucleic Acid Amplification Test (NAAT) from a trusted testing partner, and if given a negative result for COVID-19, allowed to bypass the state’s 14-day mandatory quarantine.
Governor David Ige and several state leaders were at the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport today to welcome passengers and check out the verification process. Speaking at a news briefing, Gov. Ige said, “Today is a big day for us because it signifies to the world that we are excited and ready to safely welcome visitors and returning residents to our beautiful island home… it’s also an important milestone in reviving our economy.” The governor also thanked everyone who worked on the Safe Travels Hawai‘i program, as well as residents, for their hard work in keeping COVID-19 cases down which has allowed the state to resume travel. He also added, “The residents of Hawai‘i have sacrificed tremendously to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in our community. To do our part to keep the community safe, we’re asking everyone to wear masks when they arrive. We’re asking everyone to wash their hands, use hand sanitizer, and maintain physical distancing because, we do know that these are the things each and every one of us can do to maintain the health and safety of our community.”
The governor also reiterated that while the Safe Travels Hawai‘i program is still new and that challenges are to be expected, the state will be monitoring the program closely and adjustments will be made as necessary.
We will have more video showing the scene at the Kona airport later this evening. Hawaiʻi County is asking arrivals to take a second COVID-19 test as an added safety precaution.