Interisland travelers may no longer need to get tested starting in April, 2021, if the lieutenant governor gets his way.
Lt. Gov. Josh Green is asking the governor to lift the mandatory quarantine for passengers going to the neighbor islands as daily cases and infection rates decline.
Business experts say dropping the quarantine would provide a much-needed lifeline to the neighbor island economy and also help businesses as well as the people on Oahu.
Green said, the time has come to lift more restrictions. Vaccinations are ramping up and positivity rates — for the most part — are heading down with the state at 1% and Honolulu County at .9%. Maui County is the highest at 2.8%.
“I think we should get rid of the interisland quarantine as soon as we can. It would be ideal if we could rid of that by April 1. It takes up a lot of resources. It’s not preventing the spread of disease anymore and if we could put all of our efforts on vaccinating people, we’ll be better off as a state,” said Green.
Chamber of Commerce Hawaii says neighbor island businesses have been devastated, so getting Oahu residents to visit without having to get tested can get businesses across the board going.
“The most obvious are the accommodations, restaurants, retail. But when you think about all the supply chains and who they do business with, that’s how a trickle down impact, a domino impact occurs on these islands,” said Sherry Menor-McNamara, president and CEO of Chamber of Commerce Hawaii.
UHERO executive director Carl Bonham says there is pent-up demand for Oahu residents to travel. “And as more and more of Hawaii’s population receives the vaccine, there will be more willingness to travel. And any increase in business for airlines could help to forestall some of the coming furloughs.”
A spokeswoman for the governor says, “The governor continues to meet with the county mayors to discuss next steps. When they decide that it is safe to lift the interisland quarantine, we will announce it.”
Maui County’s managing director says Mayor Victorino does not feel it is safe with the daily case count average at 22.
“At this point, with our case counts and the variant that we’re dealing with in our community, he has requested not to stop the quarantine,” said Sandy Baz.
Big Island’s mayor did not want to comment while Oahu and Kauai’s mayors did not respond.