The Garden Island of Hawaii, Kauai received approval by Hawaii Governor David Ige today temporarily opt-out of the state’s pre-arrivals testing program, which essentially stops all non-essential travel to Kauai. This was requested by Kauai Mayor Derek Kawakami’.
“The unprecedented surge of COVID-19 cases on the mainland and the rise in community spread on Kauai are of significant concern for the Garden Isle,” Ige said in a news release this evening. “We must protect Kauai residents and visitors and ensure that Kauai’s hospitals do not become overwhelmed.”
“Kauai 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 Kauai,” Ige said.
The decision is effective Wednesday at 12:01 a.m., and means that all trans-Pacific and inter-island travelers arriving in Kauai are subject to the 14-day quarantine regardless of test results.
Kawakami made his request in the wake of dozens of new COVID-19 infections, especially travel-related cases on Kauai.
“Our travel related cases are now leading to community spread across our island. This temporary pause in travel will allow us to remain in Tier 4 as long as possible, keeping youth sports playing and businesses open as we conduct surge testing and contact tracing. I will gladly repeal the moratorium once we have the virus under control again,” the mayor said.
Kauai, however, has seen a larger spike in travel-related coronavirus infections since the start of the pre-travel testing program. The island had only reported 61 cases between March 1 and Oct. 14, climbing to 45 cases in November.
Temporarily opting out of the Safe Travels program allows the island to remain in that county’s Tier 4 – the least restrictive tier – allowing the counties local economy to operate.
Kawakami said Kauai’s low case counts prior to the pre-arrivals testing program had meant that the county could permit greater economic and social activities than the other counties. Bars had been able to operate and sporting events had been taken place.