Tourists are returning to the islands with some restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Officials said nearly 8,300 travelers arrived on 30 flights in Hawaii on Thursday.
Visitors face long lines, long wait times at airports on first day of pre-travel testing program
The first day kicked off for Hawaii’s pre-travel testing program, and thousands from the U.S. mainland took the opportunity to head to Hawaii on Thursday.
However, for some visitors, their Hawaiian vacation got off to a rocky start. They waited hours in line before being able to exit the airport quarantine free, NewsNation affiliate KHON-TV reported.
In the afternoon at Kahului Airport on Maui, lines wrapped around the airport, with some having to wait hours.
Jeff Smith, who flew in from northern California, said it took about 2.5 hours to finally get their QR code scanned for the Safe Travels program, so they could begin their vacation.
“We’re here. It’s been a long day though. It’s been a six-hour flight [from Los Angeles], and we’ve had to spend another couple two to three hours in the airport trying to just get out of the airport. That’s the frustrating part,” said Smith.
He said that the airport could have been better prepared. Maui County Mayor Mike Victorino agrees.
“Ours went long, the line, because of the five flights within a two hour period. Bam! Everybody came off and you’re talking about nearly a thousand plus people needing to be screened … We just … they couldn’t keep up with the volume,” Victorino said.
This combined with some passengers showing the wrong test, or tests that aren’t by the state’s trusted partners led to a major backlog, he said.
“More space and more screeners [are needed]. So, we’re going to be working with the airport and the airport’s division to see what we can do in that area to have that change done by tomorrow, if not by Saturday,” said Mayor Victorino.
The long lines weren’t just on Maui. In Kona, the line of travelers stretched outdoors.
Honolulu also saw a backlog at times, leading some arrivals to wait on the plane.
“You have to be really patient. When I [got] off the plane, the flight in front of us was only one hour before, so they held us on the plane for a little bit just to clear the congestion coming off. It’s a pretty long line to wait,” said Shawn Pimental, who is a local musician returning home.
Lt. Gov. Josh Green said that they saw more than 8,000 passengers come into Hawaii, and officials are learning as they go.
“The lines are long, but people will not have COVID, and we will get that sorted,” said Lt. Gov. Green. “We want to make sure that as we see now the patterns of travel… my understanding is that there’s more inter-island travel than had been expected over to Maui and that will be a focus.”
He also said state officials may have to learn how to spread some flight out a bit.
“And we might also learn how much testing we want to do,” Lt. Gov. Green said.
People said the process to verify their pre-travel testing only took a few minutes once they got to the front of the line.
“We’re excited to be here. We’re a part of the first group that’s coming, and we’re here for 10 days, so we’ll have plenty of time to relax,” said Smith.
Hawaii’s “TRUSTED TESTING AND TRAVEL PARTNERS”
AFC Urgent Care – COVID-19 tests are available at clinics on the AFC Urgent Care website. Tests available for ages five and older. Schedule in advance to guarantee appointment availability. A printed version of results is provided prior to leaving the clinic. Information and costs can be found at afcurgentcareportland.com/traveling-hawaii.
Bartell Drugs – In partnership with Alaska Airlines, Bartell Drugs offers testing at select locations. Tests available for ages five and older. Appointments are required at least one day in advance. Guaranteed results within 72 hours. Information can be found at bartelldrugs.com/alaska-airlines-covid-testing.
Carbon Health – Carbon Health offers COVID-19 tests at dedicated testing sites with results delivered within two hours. Tests available for ages five and older. Registration instructions and costs can be found at carbonhealth.com/alaska-airlines-to-hawaii-rapid-covid-testing.
CityHealth Urgent Care – CityHealth Urgent Care and its team of expert clinical staff and infectious disease physician consultants offer testing utilizing state-of-the-art Abbott Lab instrumentation for results in 15 minutes. Tests available for ages five and older. Information and costs can be found at bayareacovid19testing.com.
Color – Color supports the nation’s first COVID-19 testing program for airline passengers. Tests available for ages five and older. Information can be found at color.com/united-airlines-testing-program.
CVS Health – Travelers may schedule an appointment up to two days in the future at select CVS Pharmacy drive-thru locations. Tests available for ages 12 and older. Pre-registration is required. Registration instructions and costs can be found at cvs.com/selfpaytesting.
Discovery Health MD – Individuals traveling to Hawaii may schedule testing online with same and next day results at designated testing sites. Tests available for ages five and older. A limited number of walk-ups can be accommodated. Information can be found at discoveryhealthmd.com/covid-19-services/test-to-fly.
Kaiser Permanente (members only) – Kaiser Permanente members may schedule a test online, or contact the appointment call center or nurse advice line in their home region for scheduling instructions. Kaiser Permanente members returning home to Hawaii may call the Away-from-Home Travel Line at 951-268-3900 for scheduling instructions. Information can be found at kp.org/travel.
Quest Diagnostics – Individuals may order and schedule the company’s COVID-19 Active Infection Test online and select from more than 500 Walmart drive-thru pharmacy locations for a nasal swab test. Ordering instructions and costs can be found at questcovid19.com/hawaii.
Vault Health – At-home tests with real-time audio-visual supervision are available with Vault Health, the first FDA-authorized saliva test. Tests available for ages five and older. Tests are mailed with accurate results in 72 hours or less. Information and costs can be found at learn.vaulthealth.com/state-of-hawaii.
Walgreens – Testing is available at no cost to eligible individuals who meet CDC criteria. Tests available for ages five and older. All drive-thru testing locations operate outdoors and patients do not leave their vehicles. Appointment required. Information can be found at walgreens.com/covid19testing.