Hawaii to implement pre-arrival COVID-19 test option as quarantine alternative
(Reuters) - Hawaii will implement a pre-trip COVID-19 test option for travelers to the U.S. as an alternative to a two-week travel quarantine, the governor said hours after the Department of Justice supported a quarantine lawsuit.
Tourists to Hawaii are exempt from quarantine upon arrival from various states if they provide a valid coronavirus test result prior to the visit, Governor David Ige said late Wednesday.
"From August 1, we will implement a pre-trip testing program for travelers to Hawaii as an alternative to the 14-day mandatory quarantine," said Ige in a briefing.
The current 14-day mandatory quarantine for all people traveling to the state began in March and was later extended by the governor until the end of June.
On Wednesday, the DOJ had supported a lawsuit against the state's coronavirus measures. The visitors were denied the rights granted to most of the island's residents. The lawsuit was filed by residents of Nevada and California who own property in Hawaii.
Tourism is a big part of Hawaii's economy - more than 10.4 million visitors came to the islands last year and, according to the state tourism agency, supported around 216,000 jobs with a population of around 1.4 million.
At some point, the state considered using GPS-enabled anklets or smartphone tracking apps extensively to enforce orders for arriving passengers at home.
However, this plan was pushed into the background after the Hawaii Attorney General's Office raised concerns.
The United States registered around 2.4 million cases of coronavirus infections with nearly 122,000 deaths, according to a Reuters report earlier Thursday.
Hawaii had over 830 infections and 17 deaths from the outbreak. The state average of one death per 100,000 people is among the lowest in the United States.
(Reporting by Maria Ponnezhath in Bengaluru, edited by William Maclean)
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