High passenger counts for tourism’s restart strain the airport entry process, especially on Hawaii island

High passenger counts for tourism’s restart strain the airport entry process, especially on Hawaii island

Hawaii’s tourism reopening Thursday sent more than 10,000 passengers through statewide airports, straining the system, especially on Hawaii island, where travelers must take two COVID-19 tests to get out of quarantine. Travelers who provide written confirmation from a state-­approved COVID-19 testing partner of a negative result from a test administered within 72 hours of the final leg of departure are now allowed to bypass the quarantine. However, a post-arrival test is required for visitors to Hawaii island, who can take a free rapid test at the airport. Hawaii island Mayor Harry Kim said Friday the county administered a post-arrival test to approximately 1,020 passengers — all of the ones who came in as part of the state’s pre-arrival testing program. However, Kim said testing got backed up at Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport, and late in the day, passengers who were awaiting test results at the airport were allowed to leave before finding out whether they were virus-free. Kim said the post-arrival antigen test, which is paid for by the county, identified only one arriving passenger as having COVID-19. Luckily, he said, that passenger wasn’t part of the group that was allowed to leave the airport after 8 p.m. to make more room for officials to process more incoming flights. “There’s no doubt yesterday was a very bad experience,” Kim said. “Every island was caught off guard by the number of people who came in — not only by the number (of passengers), but by the airlines switching the ...
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