Hawaii extending quarantine through August

Hawaii Gov. David Ige (D) announced Monday that the state will extend its 14-day mandatory quarantine through August, delaying plans to allow travelers to enter after testing negative for COVID-19.

The Hawaii governor said during his press briefing that the pre-travel testing program would be postponed until Sept. 1, citing the “uncontrolled outbreaks and surges” on the U.S. mainland.

“We have always said that we will make decisions based on the health and safety of our community as the highest priority,” Ige said during the briefing.

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“As we speak right now, the outbreaks in the mainland are not in control, and we don’t believe that that situation will change significantly by Aug. 1 as we had hoped,” he added.

The pre-travel testing program unveiled in June is designed to permit out-of-state visitors to come to Hawaii and avoid the mandatory two-week quarantine if they supply a negative COVID-19 case within 72 hours of boarding. Tourists without this test would still be subject to the 14-day quarantine. 

The program intended to give a boost to businesses that have been struggling during the pandemic and with the quarantine pushing tourists away.

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“This was not an easy decision to make. It really was a choice between two difficult options,” Ige said, citing the balancing of the community’s health and economic needs. 

College students returning to the state for school are exempt from the quarantine, he said. 

Hawaii’s cases have been rising, although the number of cases are still a fraction of most state’s counts. Hawaii has counted 1,243 COVID-19 cases, with its highest single-day increase in cases on Saturday with 42 new cases. 

The U.S. is undergoing a surge in COVID-19 cases, particularly in states like Arizona, California, Florida and Texas. The country recorded its highest single-day increase in new on Friday with 68,241 cases.

Hawaii is not the only state to back down on reopening plans as California ordered all bars and several indoor activities to shut down statewide amid the surge.