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Second Day of Safe Travels Pre-Test Program Brings Over 7,000 Trans-Pacific Arrivals

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Ryan Finnerty/HPR
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Passengers line up for processing at the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport on Oct, 15, 2020 on the first day of the state's pre-flight testing program that allows visitors and returning residents to skip the travel quarantine.

Over 7,000 trans-Pacific passengers arrived Friday, the second day of Hawaii's Safe Travels program that allows visitors and returning residents to skip the travel quarantine if they take a pre-test showing they are negative for COVID-19.

The 7,853 passengers for Friday compares to the 8,224 in trans-Pacific arrivals on Thursday, the first day of the program, according to the Hawaii Tourism Authority. Leading up to the state's tourism reopening, about 2,000 passengers were arriving in the state daily.

The tourism authority's numbers do not include interisland passengers so were lower than those released by Lt. Gov. Josh Green's office last week. But both U.S. Mainland arrivals and those traveling interisland can apply for the quarantine exemption by taking the pre-flight test from the state's authorized testing partners.

Despite the option to skip the quarantine, hundreds of passengers have opted to quarantine instead for the required 14 days, or the length of their vacation, if that is shorter. Those who arrive without their test results also need to quarantine until they can show they tested negative.

County police and the state Department of the Attorney General are enforcing the quarantine, but the program relies heavily on individual compliance. Violators are subject to a maximum penalty of $5,000 in fines and a year in jail.

Airports, particularly those on the Neighbor Islands, have seen long lines to process the quarantine exemptions and health and contact information. 

Officials also say the arrival of multiple flights at around the same time contributes to the congestion. 

The Big Island mandates a second test on arrival at its airports. Maui and Kauai have voluntary programs for second tests. Oahu does not have a second test at this time.

More information on the Safe Travels program is available on the state Department of Transportation website.

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