The Hawaiian island of Kauai is opting out of the state’s travel testing program following an increase in both travel-related coronavirus cases and community spread, Hawaii’s Gov. David Ige confirmed.
“The unprecedented surge of COVID-19 cases on the mainland and the rise in community spread on Kaua‘i are of significant concern for the Garden Isle. We must protect Kaua‘i residents and visitors and ensure that Kaua‘i’s hospitals do not become overwhelmed,” Ige said in a statement on Friday. “Kaua‘i county currently has the fewest number of ICU beds in the state, and private providers are seeking ways to increase capacity. This moratorium aims to stabilize the situation on Kaua‘i.”
The statewide testing program, launched in October, allows visitors to skip the mandatory quarantine if they test negative for the virus before arriving. Starting Dec. 2, all visitors to Kauai — including those from other islands as well as the mainland — will have to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.
Kauai’s Mayor Derek Kawakami said the new travel restrictions will allow the island to keep things like businesses open “as long as possible” and without it, the island would be “unable to adequately protect itself.”
Those who need to travel to Kauai for essential reasons, like medical needs or critical infrastructure work, can apply for a modified quarantine program.
In total, Kauai has reported just over 100 positive cases of COVID-19, according to the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency. Overall, the state has reported more than 17,800 confirmed cases.
While Kauai may be temporarily opting out of the pre-testing program, Ige said Hawaii’s other islands would continue to participate. Several airlines — including American Airlines, United Airlines, and Hawaiian Airlines — have embraced the program, offering pre-flight testing for travelers heading to the state.
Hawaii has also encouraged travelers to visit while giving back, offering incentives like a free night’s stay if they volunteer while there.