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Interisland Travel Quarantine in Effect Again

By Catherine Cluett Pactol

With numbers of new COVID-19 cases in the state continuing to skyrocket, a partial interisland travel quarantine was reinstated by Gov. David Ige last week, effective Tuesday, Aug. 11. The mandatory 14-day quarantine affects Molokai residents traveling anywhere in the state except Oahu. If you’re flying into Honolulu, you don’t have to quarantine, but upon your return to Molokai, the 14-day quarantine would be required.

“With Oahu’s 200 new cases reported today and 1,618 active cases statewide, reinstituting the interisland quarantine was necessary to protect our community and healthcare system,” Mayor Michael Victorino said last Friday. “I also want to let our residents know that we are discouraging any non-essential travel, but we understand if you need to travel for work or medical care.”

All travelers will be required to fill out the County of Maui Mandatory Travel Declaration Form found at mauicounty.gov. Travelers can seek an essential work or medical exemption for their trip by emailing TravelExemption@mauicounty.gov. County officials are urging travelers to submit travel exemption requests as far in advance of their trips as possible. Those seeking exemptions must attach to the email a copy of a government identification for each traveler; a medical exemption – letter from treating physician stating the appointment date and if a companion is needed for travel; or essential work exemption – a letter from the employer describing the essential work as well as the travel dates.

As of now, the interisland quarantine continues through Aug. 31. The previous interisland travel quarantine took effect on April 1 and was lifted on June 16.

The Maui Police Department will be enforcing the mandatory 14-day quarantine order for interisland as well as transpacific travelers. If you want to report a suspected quarantine violation, email MPDquarantine@mpd.net.

While some closures are in effect for Oahu, Maui County businesses that are currently open don’t need to shut down. Molokai beaches and parks will also remain open. However, face coverings are required whenever you leave your home, and social gatherings of more than 10 people are prohibited.

“Our major focus for the 10-person limitation continues to be for unsupervised social gatherings such as parties, funerals and celebrations,” Mayor Victorino said. “These gatherings have shown to dramatically increase the rate of spread of COVID-19, as evidenced on Oahu.”

With new cases on Oahu frequently numbering more than 200 a day last week, Honolulu is again facing closures and restrictions. All city parks and park recreational facilities, beaches, campgrounds and botanical gardens will be closed, along with bars, bowling alleys and other recreational activities. Organized team sports are suspended, though fitness facilities on Oahu can remain in operation with physical distancing and face covering measures in place.

Last Thursday, Gov. Ige addressed concerns that everything would be shut down again, saying the current strategy is targeted at eliminating large, uncontrolled gatherings that are taking place but had strong words for those letting down their guard and contributing to the surge in cases.

“It has been very disappointing and infuriating,” said Gov. Ige. “I hate to see people not wearing masks and gathering in large groups with little regard for safety. I know people are frustrated and everyone wants life to return to normal, but we still need to be vigilant.”

Statewide, Dept. of Hawaiian Homelands has extended a halt in the issuance of camping permits and facility reservations through Oct. 31. On Molokai, this includes Moʻomomi Beach Park, Kapuaiwa Grove and Kalanianaʻole Hall.

On Oahu, public schools will do complete distance learning for the first four weeks of the school year, which begins on Aug. 17. Molokai schools are still scheduled to open as planned, however.

Health officials are warning that Oahu hospital capacity could be overrun by the end of this month. As of last Thursday, 117 people were hospitalized statewide for COVID-19, 115 of which were on Oahu. More than half of ICU beds are now filled and that percentage will increase as more serious cases result from new positives. State Health Director Dr. Bruce Anderson said the situation is much more serious than predicted last month.

“The projections for the neighbor islands are better, but hospital capacity on the less populated islands is more fragile because they have less space and limited capacity,” said Anderson. “We are approaching a health care crisis, and bold measures are needed now to stem the increasing spread of coronavirus in Hawaii.”

While Molokai’s confirmed cases remain at two, Molokai residents may also be affected by Oahu hospital capacity issues, as many community members are sent to Oahu for medical care and hospitalization, according to health officials.

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