Hawaii expands pre-travel testing program to S. Korea

Gov. David Ige announced Wednesday that starting Feb. 5, travelers from South Korea can bypass the state’s mandatory 10-day quarantine if they take a COVID-19 test from a trusted testing partner in that country.

The test must be taken no earlier than 72 hours prior to departure, and the test result must be negative.

In addition to the state’s program, effective this past Monday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is requiring proof of a negative COVID-19 test or documentation of having recovered from COVID-19 for all air passengers arriving from a foreign country to the United States.

For international travelers coming to Hawaii, only tests from trusted testing partners will be accepted for purposes of bypassing the state’s quarantine.

“The pre-travel testing program is just one layer of the state’s comprehensive Safe Travels Hawaii program, which has served us well in protecting our residents and visitors,” Ige said in a statement. “We are excited to safely welcome back travelers from Korea.”

The state Department of Health approved the use of the COVID-19 nucleic acid amplification test conducted by a laboratory authorized by the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency in Korea for the pre-travel test. Four trusted testing partners in Korea had been approved as of Wednesday.

“We look forward to welcoming our friends and family traveling from Korea and appreciate everyone’s efforts to travel safely with a pre-test. The Safe Travels Hawaii program has allowed our state to restore hope and some economic recovery while balancing the health and safety of our residents and visitors,” said Lt. Gov. Josh Green in a statement.

Korean nationals traveling abroad are still subject to a 14-day quarantine upon their return to the country. Travel restrictions on U.S. travel to Korea remain in place.