Due to ongoing coronavirus outbreaks in several states, Hawaii Governor David Ige announced a delay in previously announced plans to allow trans-Pacific travelers to skip quarantine if they test negative for the viral infection.
According to HawaiiNewsNow.com, Governor Ige said the traveler pre-testing program was slated to begin on August 1, but has been pushed back to September 1 for Hawaiian health officials to finalize the details of how the testing will be conducted.
The state currently has a mandatory 14-day quarantine period for incoming travelers, which has devastated the tourism industry. Ige said the decision to push back the pre-testing program was based on the health and safety of its residents.
“As we speak right now, the outbreaks on the mainland are not in control and we don’t believe that situation will change significantly by August 1 as we had hoped,” Ige told Hawaii News Now.
While college students returning to school in Hawaii will be exempt from the extended quarantine, the state reported a single-day record of 42 cases on Saturday, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 1,243.
The number of coronavirus cases in Hawaii is much lower than most states, thanks in part to the island state’s isolation and the strict quarantine, but the travel industry has been effectively shut down since March.
As a result of the tourism-related closures, the unemployment rate in Hawaii stands at 22.6 percent, the second-highest in the United States. Ige acknowledged the continued strain on small businesses, but said the decision was necessary to protect all Hawaiians from the further spread of coronavirus infections.
“We want to welcome back our visitors once our state is ready to do so in a safe manner that will hopefully avoid the need to backtrack in the future,” Hawaii Tourism Authority CEO Christ Tatum said in a statement.
Last week, the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) introduced a new online course to help hotels train their staffs on the enhanced safety and cleanliness guidelines during the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.
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