U.S. Summer Travel Shapes Up With Hawaii Dropping Quarantine Requirement While CT/NJ/NY Introduce Isolation

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Several U.S. states are currently preparing for the summer travel season and modify their isolation requirements for arriving visitors including Connecticut, New Jersey and New York where a mandatory 14 days quarantine is now required.

Hawaii on the other hand has scheduled their quarantine requirement to stop effective August 1, 2020 provided the traveler can provide a valid negative test taken within 72 hr prior to arrival.

Covid-19 numbers across the U.S. are rising again but given that new lock down rules aren’t really in the cards anymore different states have adopted different measures in the recent weeks/months.

Hawaii which has a quarantine rule for out of state visitors since March just announced that effective August 1, 2020 they will no long require this and instead ask for a negative PCR test.

You can find the whole news announcement on the website of Hawaii’s Tourism Authority:

STATEWIDE ORDER BY GOVERNOR DAVID IGE: YOU MUST SELF-QUARANTINE FOR 14 DAYS IF YOU ARRIVED IN HAWAII AFTER MARCH 26, 2020

Mandatory 14-Day Quarantine For All Passengers Arriving From Out-of-State; Beginning August 1, Individuals With Valid Negative Test Up To 72 Hours Prior to Trip Will Be Exempt

JUNE 24 UPDATE: Beginning August 1, travelers to Hawaii who have a valid negative COVID-19 test result up to 72 hours prior to arriving at Hawaii’s airports will not be subject to the 14-day quarantine. The FDA-approved PCR test from a CLIA-certified laboratory must be done prior to arrival. No testing will be provided upon arrival at the airport. Click here to view the press release.

During a press conference Gov. David Ige said, “We are working on an alternative to the 14-day mandatory quarantine that would allow a safe and healthy way for travelers to return to the islands. Today I am announcing that beginning August 1st we will implement a pre-travel testing program for travelers to Hawaii as an alternative to the 14-day mandatory quarantine. Beginning August 1st travelers who have a valid negative COVID-19 test prior to arriving will not be subject to the 14-day mandatory quarantine. The quarantine will remain in place for those who choose to not get a pre-travel test. The health of our community continues to be our primary focus and priority. This multi-layered screening process allows travelers to return and allows us to continue to protect the health and safety of our community.”

Generally speaking this is a good idea because with the quarantine requirement it pretty much means that there will be zero tourism in Hawaii. Nobody will go to a holiday destination to first spend two weeks in indoor isolation, what would be the point of that?

Not sure how easy it will be to receive a test from an “FDA-approved PCR test from a CLIA-certified laboratory” in order to facilitate this benefit. This puts quality conditions on the test that has to be shown.

While Hawaii is easing up their rules as the lack of tourists is devastating the Hawaiian economy, the New York Times reported that several east coast states CT, NJ as well as NY have announced that they will now require a quarantine for select out of state visitors (depending on their travel origin).

… Only a handful of states — including Maine, Rhode Island and Hawaii — have required out-of-state travelers to quarantine. A larger number have asked travelers to quarantine but do not mandate doing so. And a few, such as Florida and Kansas, apply the requirement only to those coming from certain states.

The new quarantine in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut would apply to any person arriving from a state with a positive test rate higher than 10 per 100,000 residents, or a state with a 10 percent or higher rate over a seven-day rolling average.

Mr. Cuomo said that enforcement would be up to each of the three states. In New York, he said, those violating the quarantine order could be “subject to a judicial order and mandatory quarantine.” A first violation could result in a $2,000 fine and could go up to $10,000 for subsequent violations.

Indeed, the effect of the order may be largely symbolic. Even in places where out-of-state arrivals are already formally required to quarantine, there has not been widespread enforcement to make sure the rules were being followed. …

“You could argue that every law is the honor system until you get caught,” Mr. Cuomo said. “You can violate the quarantine until you get caught,” he added, then “you’re in mandatory quarantine and fined thousands of dollars.”

This rule based on an honor system sounds rather useless. Nobody will follow it and good luck for the government to prove when exactly someone arrived in the state, especially when driving.

Hawaii definitely has an advantage here as those traveling to the state inevitably have to fly there (or take a long boat ride). The natural barrier of the Pacific makes it much easier to control the flux of travel.

Conclusion

If testing will become the new standard requirement then a lot needs to be done with availability and cost to get a diagnosis certified. People can’t pay several hundred dollars frequently just to get a letter saying they aren’t infected with Covid-19.

Additionally some countries don’t even offer these spot tests (Japan being one of them) which makes it extremely difficult if not impossible to fly to any country requiring such a test result.

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