Gov. Ige Lifts Interisland Quarantine on June 16; Out-of-State Quarantine to be Addressed Next Week
By Wendy Osher
Interisland Quarantine to be Lifted on June 16
Governor David Ige today announced he will lift the interisland quarantine on travel between the Hawaiian Islands, effective on June 16, 2020.
As the state lifts the interisland quarantine, they will be implementing thermal screening, a new interisland travel form and a more robust contact tracing program. The news comes as Hawaiʻi marks zero fatalities over the course of four weeks, and zero new cases today.
Gov. Ige reviewed key indicators that he said were necessary in order to make this happen. “Clearly we have the lowest case count in the country. In the last week, we’ve had a total of 12 positive COVID-19 counts. We have more than adequate health care capacity, as we’ve managed the disease here in the islands… and we have built and expanded our ability to test for COVID-19 throughout the state,” said Gov. Ige, noting that testing capacity is now available on every island.
For travelers that make an interisland trip before the quarantine is lifted on June 16th, they will still have to carry out their full two-week quarantine, even if they are traveling the day before it is lifted.
Quarantine for Out-of-State Arrivals Will Be Addressed Next Week
Meantime, the 14-day quarantine for incoming arrivals to Hawaiʻi from out-of-state will be addressed next week. That quarantine for travel from out-of-state currently remains in effect through June 30, but is expected to be extended beyond that point, as indicated in previous discussion with the governor.
State officials say the number of new COVID-19 cases is expected to rise once travel is re-opened. However, the State Department of Health has begun the process of training 500 new contact tracers, exceeding the recommended standards set by the Centers for Disease Control, and is exploring other screening and testing procedures.
“We must ensure that we do not experience a surge in cases that overwhelms our healthcare capacity. While we are working quickly to re-open travel, this must be a careful and thoughtful process. We have seen the new outbreaks in other communities that have re-opened too quickly. And many of our largest visitor markets, such as California, still have large numbers of cases that are a cause for concern,” said Gov. Ige.
Hawaiian Airlines Plans to Bring Capacity In Line with Demand
Hawaiian Airlines CEO Peter Ingram was among the individuals who spoke at a press conference held at the Daniel K Inouye International Airport this afternoon.
“Today we’re operating five round trips a day from each of Honolulu to Līhuʻe, Kona, Hilo and Maui. Those flights that are serving the needs of essential travelers have a lot of seats available on them already,” said Ingram. “On a typical day lately we’ll run on average 20% or 30% of load factors. So some of the additional demand can be accommodated just on the seats running very empty already.”
Windows with higher demand include Monday morning and Friday afternoon activity, which Ingram said is patterned after the needs of essential workers. That will be modified as more people begin traveling freely without the quarantine.
“We’re prepared to ramp back up. If you think about the number of flights–those five round trips to each of four markets (20 round trips, 40 flights per day). Typically prior to this, we would have had 180 flights per day traveling between the islands on average. I don’t think we’ll get up near that very soon because there’s some demand that’s just not going to be there,” said Ingram.
“The connections off our long-haul flights are not going to be there in numbers right now, and there’s still going to be some anxiety for people around traveling. And certainly people’s pocketbooks are hurting a little bit. So we’re going to start filling up the seats we have,” said Ingram.
According to Ingram, Hawaiian Airlines plans to increase capacity to bring it in line with demand, and cap its load factors at around 70% on neighbor island flights.
*Additional Notes from the state Joint Information Center on COVID-19:
Detail on What Happens at the Airport When You Travel Interisland
Various state departments were involved in the process leading to today’s announcement of the reopening of interisland travel on June 16. DOT spokesperson Tim Sakahara said, “Part of that process was developing a new form that went through at least a dozen iterations. The main difference between the former arriving passenger forms is the interisland form asks for health related information.” That information will be used by the Dept. of Health in case health experts need to follow up or contact a traveler. Key points of the process include:
- Temperature screening area (elevated temp of 100.4 degrees or greater, no fly)
- Passenger verification before TSA checkpoints for completing of turning in forms
- Forms collected and information verified
- Anyone reporting symptoms to undergo additional screening and/or testing
In addition to having an elevated temperature, refusal to complete the mandatory forms or being on the traveler 14-day quarantine list will disqualify someone from flying. Forms are mandatory for all flight segments, even on the same day.
*Video Courtesy Gov. David Ige / Facebook.