Maui Business

Maui Post Arrival Test to End on June 4

By Wendy Osher
June 2, 2021, 8:36 AM HST
* Updated June 3, 7:13 AM
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Post-arrival testing begins for trans-Pacific arrivals at Kahului Airport. PC: County of Maui / Shane Tegarden

Maui’s post-arrival rapid testing program at Kahului Airport will end on Friday, June 4, according to Maui Mayor Michael Victorino.

From the start of the program on May 4, through May 31, the program has tested 92,963 travelers.  County officials say 26-29 travelers had positive rapid antigen test results, but follow-up PCR tests revealed that just five of those were confirmed as positive. This included three visitors and two returning residents.  Positive cases were referred to Maui District Health Office of the state Department of Health.

The positivity rate for mainland travelers was 0.054%. “It was a lot less than the projected 1% of travelers. Those are great numbers. It shows the vast majority of Americans are getting vaccinated and the rate of infection is a lot lower that what we originally thought. Without this program, we could never come to that conclusion,” said Dr. Alan Wu, Medical Director and co-founder of Doctors of Waikīkī, the company that conducted the secondary testing program on Maui.

An estimated 3,868 individuals were exempted from the post arrival test because they showed proof of being fully vaccinated. All trans-Pacific travelers, whether fully vaccinated or not, still need to take a pre-departure test to receive the travel quarantine exception.  Further details and FAQs are posted here.

Mayor Victorino said the program started for three reasons: (1) To address claims that COVID cases were the result of visitors bringing in new cases; (2) concern over variant introduction; and (3) ensure that the test, if brought back in the future, would work.

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“After nearly a month of tests, we have some statistical evidence now… The last and perhaps most important aspect of this testing,” Mayor Victorino said, was to see how the vaccination program was working.

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“Of the positives, few were guests, few were residents; and it proved the fact that back in early December, January and February, when visitors were starting to grow and come back, that a lot of it was community spread and that it spread because people were returning from the mainland with some issues,” said Mayor Victorino.

Mayor Victorino said that to date, the program cost between $2.5 and $2.7 million, with CARES Act and federal funds covering most of the expenses.  

“In most cases the program worked very well,” said Mayor Victorino, who noted that there were some challenges. “When you get three, four, or five flights arriving simultaneously, it was almost virtually impossible not to have a waiting time.”

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There were 6,093 visitors arriving daily on domestic flights to Maui in May, according to data compiled by the state Department of Business Economic Development and Tourism. That’s down 2.8% from pre-pandemic levels reported two years ago in 2019, but up 3.4% from three years ago in 2018.

“The uptick in the hospitality industry with both staycations and vacationers has been enormous (and) we are looking at ways we can manage it as best as we can,” said Mayor Victorino

When asked about the car rental shortage and if he believed the high prices were okay due to demand or if he considered it to be price gouging, Mayor Victorino deferred to the state saying the oversight falls within the purview of the state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs.

“To be perfectly honest, the prices are very high. Until we get them down, or until we get more vehicles available–which I’m not exactly excited about either because I don’t want our roads inundated with vehicles–I think more public transportation, more transportation between resorts and other destinations may be another factor,” said Mayor Victorino. “Doing smaller tour vans instead of these big buses might be another option. Or taking buses from the airport to the resort, so that people, like in the old days, didn’t have to get a car.”

Wendy Osher
Wendy Osher leads the Maui Now news team. She is also the news voice of parent company, Pacific Media Group, having served more than 20 years as News Director for the company’s six Maui radio stations.
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