Hawaii opens pre-travel COVID-19 testing program to Canadians

WATCH: Even though we are warned against non-essential travel during the pandemic, Hawaii is willing to form a travel bubble with Canada. The plan is to use a pre-travel testing program, allowing Canadians to vacation there without a 14-day quarantine. Mike Le Couteur explains how it works.

Canadian travellers looking to escape to the tropical U.S. state of Hawaii this winter have an option to get around the two-week COVID-19 quarantine requirement.

Hawaii governor David Ige announced a new testing protocol on Thursday that will see travellers who have a negative coronavirus test result within 72 hours of their scheduled flight not be required to quarantine when they arrive.

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Travellers can take advantage of the program starting Tuesday, Nov. 24.

According to Ige, if the test results “from a trusted testing partner” are not available before the scheduled boarding time, “the traveller must quarantine for 14 days, or the length of the stay, whichever runs shorter.”

“We’re adding this safety precaution now in response to the dramatically increasing number of COVID-19 cases in the continental United States and around the world,” Ige said Thursday.

He said that for the most part, those taking advantage of Hawaii’s pre-travel testing program launched in October, arrive with their negative test results in hand. However, in about 10 per cent of cases, people are notified they’re positive for COVID-19 after they’ve landed in Hawaii.

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The new testing program is being implemented in partnership with both WestJet and Air Canada, with WestJet saying on its website the fee-based tests will be done by DynaLIFE laboratories.

The tests will cost $150 and are only available in Alberta, but are open to all Canadians, WestJet said. The DynaLIFE tests are administered at participating pharmacies, according to the airline.

Officials said it’s too early to estimate how many Canadians might take advantage of the new initiative.

The testing program comes just two days after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau advised Canadians against travelling internationally.

“The pandemic continues to cause significant challenges around the world, including in the southern United States, and people are safest when they stay at home, in Canada,” Trudeau said.

“Obviously, if people do choose to go, that is their choice, but they need to make sure they have good health insurance, good travel insurance — also that they make sure that wherever they’re going, there is sufficient health-care capacity that is not beginning to get overwhelmed if something goes wrong.”

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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