Hawaii COVID-19 Joint Information Center News Release-Pre Travel Thoughts and Tips, Nov. 9, 2020

Posted on Nov 9, 2020 in COVID-19 News Releases

(HONOLULU) – When Jeff and Jean Lilley flew to Dallas to be present for the birth of their first grandchild, they knew there was a chance they’d have to quarantine when they returned home. 

However, they report their experience with Hawai‘i’s pre-travel testing program for incoming passengers, which started on October 15, was largely positive. Jeff, the pastor of the Lutheran Church of Honolulu, says preparation and practice were key to a smooth return to the islands and bypassing the mandatory 14-day quarantine with a negative test result from a trusted testing and travel partner.

After the birth of their grandson Franklin, the couple spent nearly three weeks with him and his parents. While it wasn’t required, they also got tested when they arrived in Texas. “We all wanted to be sure no one was exposed, particularly Franklin,” Jean said. 

Even before leaving Honolulu, the couple familiarized themselves with the functionality of the Hawai‘i Safe Travels application and set up their individual accounts. They feel it is really important to have a smart phone in order to be able to download PDF files of required test results, literally on-the-fly. They also researched information on our state’s trusted testing and travel partners; labs, pharmacies, clinics and online providers of approved pre-travel COVID-19 testing. They picked one of the national pharmacy chains for their tests in Dallas.

By the time they departed Dallas early one morning, they had not received their results and Jean says she was a little anxious about that. After landing in Los Angeles for a layover they discovered their negative test results were in. They’d already practiced uploading PDFs from their smart phones into the documents section of the mandatory travel and health form. By the time they landed back home, their results had been verified, and they sailed through health screenings at the airport, without any issues and with no quarantine requirement.

Pastor Jeff says they were prepared to quarantine if necessary because they have jobs where that’s possible. They’d decided that even if the pre-travel testing program had not debuted on Oct. 15, they were going to travel regardless for the momentous occasion of Franklin’s birth. “I’m glad the state has this program for people needing to travel to the mainland for various family reasons,” he said. Jean added that if not for the birth of their grandson they probably would not have traveled while coronavirus cases continue to rise across the country. They both expressed surprise and delight to find great compliance with local face covering rules in the Dallas metroplex but did observe that in more rural areas, people were not universally wearing face coverings. Here are the Lilley’s recommendations for preparing to travel out-of-state:

  • Set up your account at travel.hawaii.gov well in advance.
  • Familiarize yourself with what kind of information you’ll need to provide about
    your itinerary, current health status, residence/lodging, and testing status.
  • Know your technology and practice uploading PDF files to your phone so you can seamlessly transfer them to the Safe Travels app.  Follow the directions on uploading a quality PDF file for your test result with the required information, which will help improve chances of expediting verification of test results. Please visit https://ets.hawaii.gov/travelhelp/ for more information. 
  • Review the options for trusted testing and travel partners, as the state doesn’t accept COVID-19 testing from non-approved partners. Research which partners provide testing in your departure city or town and be sure to schedule within the 72-hour departure window.

The Lilley’s were among the 204,685 trans-Pacific and international travelers to arrive in Hawai‘I between Oct. 15 and yesterday. They were lucky their test results were verified by the time they landed, as it can take 2-3 days to get results back if a passenger is unable to upload them prior to departing for the islands. During that time travelers are required to quarantine. 

The chart below outlines the current requirements for international, domestic, and inter-island travel.

RESOURCES 

(Video courtesy: Hawai‘i COVID-19 Joint Information Center)

HD video – Interview with Jeff and Jean Lilley, baby pictures:
https://vimeo.com/476966669 (transcription attached)

Photographs – baby pictures (photos courtesy: Lilley Family)
https://www.dropbox.com/sh/0aja845gqiu74le/AAAwJ5hqhWhxyy81PJcCmV3Ca?dl=0  

MEDIA CONTACT: 

Dan Dennison
Lead Public Information Officer
Hawai‘i COVID-19 Joint Information Center /
Hawaiicovid19.com