Understanding New Travel Requirements
By Catherine Cluett Pactol
Now that many travel rules have recently changed, are you looking to finally leave Molokai and confused about where you can and can’t fly, if you need a test and whether you have to still quarantine? We’ll break down the new rules for you here.
Travel to Maui or Lanai: If you’re traveling within Maui County without a stopover in any other county, you don’t need to take a COVID-19 test or quarantine. You just need to fill out the state’s Safe Travels Health Screening to get a QR code for quicker airport screening.
Travel to Oahu or another county: You don’t need to test prior to departure, or quarantine when you land on Oahu, but to return home to Molokai, you need to either show a negative test result within the past 72 hours, or follow the 14-day quarantine requirement.
Rep. Lynn DeCoite said for travel between Molokai and Oahu, for example, you would need a test within 72 hours of arrival back into Maui County so depending on the length of your trip, you could test on Oahu rather than before departure on Molokai. But if you don’t have your results back by the time you need to come home, you’d need to quarantine.
“If you don’t have to travel and can hold off till the end of the month, I say hold off because the cost of the tests in some areas are really high… both [the Molokai Community] Health Center and Molokai General Hospital are trying to work as best they can to bring those costs down and also looking at alternatives.”
DeCoite advised residents needing to travel to check with their insurance company and if it’s not covered, the cost — which could be more than $200, she said — would be paid out of pocket.
Medical travel: Maui County residents traveling to Oahu for medical purposes will be exempt from quarantine and pre-departure tests only if the travel is scheduled to return the same day or next day, for those not subject to any other quarantine.
“We know many of our residents in Maui County need to travel briefly to Oahu for medical purposes or to undergo medical procedures or treatment that’s not available here at home,” Mayor Victorino said. “This exemption allows for same day or overnight travel for patients get their needed treatment. Hopefully, it will reduce the amount of anxiety they experience in an already stressful situation.”
Travelers do not need to apply for a 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. This exemption does not apply to any non-medical-related travel.
Other info: Limited quarantine exemptions is still be available for essential workers and medical appointments, and requests can be submitted through MauiCounty.gov.
Children under the age of five are not be required to take a test.
Starting Oct. 15, travelers arriving in Hawaii and those traveling to different counties could show a negative test to bypass the required 14-day quarantine. All transpacific and inter-county travelers arriving into Maui County are to follow these three steps, according to the County:
• Arrive Healthy: Mandatory pre-departure test submitted 72 hours prior to departing for Maui County.
• Stay Healthy: Voluntary post-arrival test conducted 72 hours after arriving into Maui County.
• Return Home Healthy: Depart Maui County with aloha.
“The rollout of Maui County’s travel testing program is largely thanks to the work of our residents and their effort to keep our case numbers down,” Mayor Michael Victorino said. “This program is predicated on three major steps: we want travelers to arrive healthy by getting their pre-departure test; we want them to stay healthy by getting a second test; and we want everyone to return home healthy. If we can do these three things, we will be able to keep Maui County and our community healthy.”
The Hawaii Tourism Authority reported that more than 8,000 passengers arrived in Hawaii from out of state on Oct. 15.
Molokai has not had a new positive case in several weeks.