HONOLULU (AP) — Travelers to Kauai will have to spend 14 days in quarantine regardless of whether they obtain a negative COVID-19 test, Hawaii Gov. David Ige said Friday.
Ige approved a request from Kauai Mayor Derek Kawakami to temporarily opt out of the state's pre-travel testing program. This program allows travelers to bypass a two-week quarantine requirement if they test negative up to 72 hours before arriving in the islands.
The new policy will take effect on Dec. 2. Kawakami said he would gladly repeal it once Kauai has the virus under control again.
Travelers to Hawaii's other counties will be able to continue to avoid quarantine with a negative test.
Kawakami said the county's pre-travel testing moratorium will allow Kauai's children to play in youth sports and businesses to stay open as officials conduct surge testing and contact tracing.
Kauai had no cases of community spread of the coronavirus for several months starting in July. But it’s had six cases of community spread since Oct. 15, when the state began allowing travelers to bypass quarantine with a negative test.
Ige said the surge of COVID-19 cases on the mainland and the rise of community spread on Kauai is a significant concern for Kauai County. Kauai has the smallest population of any of Hawaii's four major counties and the lowest number of intensive care unit beds.
“We must protect Kauai residents and visitors and ensure that Kauai's hospitals do not become overwhelmed,” Ige said in a statement.