(BIVN) – Mayor Harry Kim went before the Hawaiʻi County Council on Wednesday to clear up confusion in regards to Thursday’s start of the pre-travel testing program in Hawaiʻi.
While the County of Hawaiʻi will participate in the pre-travel program, it will require visitors who already tested negative for COVID-19 to take a second antigen test upon arrival in order for them to avoid a mandatory 14-day quarantine.
However, the County of Hawaiʻi is not participating in a program that would enable inter-island travelers to avoid the same 14-day quarantine. Kauaʻi and Maui County will be participating in the inter-island program.
“Its a matter of fairness, really,” said Council chair Aaron Chung. “A lot of the residents are saying, what the heck? They are going to open trans-Pacific travel, allow these guys to come in – albeit, presumably COVID-free because they’ve tested – but, how come its not available to us as residents?”
Mayor Kim explained that the State approached his administration about an inter-island travel option, but his immediate response was he was too busy making sure “all the pukas are patched” in regards to trans-Pacific travel, “and that’s where my focus is.”
Mayor Kim said he did ask a lot of questions about inter-island travel procedures, but the answers were “very dissatisfactory for me to even consider accepting it,” he said. “So, I would say point blank that I am not going to consider what they’re proposing at this time.”
Kim citied the expense to travelers and the difficulties in handling the existing inter-island travel exemption system as some of his biggest concerns.
“I told people I will make up a proposal and see where we go within a week or so before the end of the month,” Kim said.
However, Mayor Kim reconsidered his timeline for an inter-island travel proposal after Puna councilwoman Ashley Kierkiewicz relayed a story of an island resident who had to skip a needed chemotherapy treatment on Oʻahu due to the existing inter-island travel difficulties.
“I’ll promise you this,” Mayor Kim said after hearing the story. “This is Wednesday. I’ll finish what I’m going to do by Friday and make a recommendation to the governor.”