Travel Rules Cause Frustration, Masks Remain Mandatory
By Catherine Cluett Pactol
Confusion over current travel rules continues, as residents try to navigate the ever-changing regulations of COVID-19 and a slew of forms, exemptions, protocols and quarantine regulations.
Returning part-time Molokai resident was reduced to tears after a frustrating travel experience arriving at the Molokai airport recently. Kim Potter of Kauai, who said she travels frequently for work as a first responder with FEMA, had a “nightmare experience” after a glitch in the Maui County system that travel verification workers use to check people’s addresses as they arrive at the airport left her scrambling to make calls to those her could vouch for her condo ownership and address. She said additionally, her pre-travel clinical testing for COVID-19 was denied when airport workers had trouble verifying the lab on an outdated list of approved testing sites. She said she wound up standing waiting for an hour before she was permitted to leave the airport.
“I know the drill, I jumped through all the hoops I thought was necessary to come back to my second home,” she said. “No one should have to go through what I went through.”
The state’s mandatory travel health form, which travelers are instructed to fill out online, has also caused frustration for those on Molokai who don’t have internet or computer access. One kupuna was told it could only be completed online in advance of travel, but a local travel worker confirmed a hard copy can be obtained at the airport, completed and brought upon departure in cases where the online form can’t be accessed.
Travel within Maui County doesn’t require any pre-travel testing or 14-day quarantine.
Same-day or overnight travel to Oahu strictly for medical purposes is exempt from testing or quarantine. Travelers do not need to apply for a medical quarantine exemption, but they must present their flight itinerary and doctor’s letter with an appointment to airport screeners upon arrival. If the medical traveler needs a travel companion, this person must be specifically identified in the doctor’s letter.
Community testing that was conducted last week at Mitchell Pauole Center sponsored by the county and administered by Minute Medical tested 120 residents, all of whom tested negative.
The County of Maui wants to remind the community that it continues to be mandatory to wear face masks for everyone five years of age and older when in public.
“Anyone who refuses to wear a mask is in violation of the County’s Public Health Emergency Rules and may be subject to fines of up to $5,000 and one year in jail,” stated county representatives. “Businesses or designated operations shall refuse to allow entry to anyone not wearing face coverings, unless he or she is covered by an exception. Businesses not enforcing this rule may be subject to enforcement, including fines and mandatory closure.”
The only exceptions are when people are eating, drinking or smoking, or when people are “engaged in strenuous outdoor physical activity,” according to the county.
Face coverings must comply with CDC recommendations.