HONOLULU (AP) — About 8,000 people landed in Hawaii on the first day of a pre-travel testing program that allowed travelers to come to the islands without quarantining for two weeks if they could produce a negative coronavirus test.
The pre-travel testing program began Thursday and allows visitors who test negative for COVID-19 within 72 hours of their arrival in the islands to avoid quarantine — a measure that’s been in place for all arriving passengers for most of the year.
The state-run testing program is an effort to stem the devastating downturn the pandemic has had on Hawaii’s tourism-based economy.
However, gaps in the program coupled with increasing cases of COVID-19 across the U.S. and the world have raised questions about whether Hawaii is ready to safely welcome back vacationers.
Opponents of the testing program have said a single test 72 hours before arrival — especially when coupled with the option to fly without a test and still quarantine — is not enough to keep island residents safe.
Hawaii’s economy is almost entirely built around tourism and local families who rely on the sector to survive need to return to work.