Requiring negative coronavirus tests for travelers is a step towards opening tourism, safely

TESTING AT AIRPORT: In this photo, Leonisa Benavente, a certified nursing assistant, partially shown at right corner, uses a thermal scanner to check departing passengers' temperature on March 12 at the A.B. Won Pat International Airport. Post file photo

There’s a sense of comfort knowing that most, if not all, of the people on the plane with you have taken the test for the novel coronavirus and tested negative.

We know the tests aren’t 100% because of the timing parameters with respect to when the tests can detect the virus.

However, taking actions such as what Hawaii is doing in requiring anyone inbound to the state to have a negative test along with other requirements does provide peace of mind to travelers, whether they're tourists, former residents visiting family or returning residents.

Additionally, airlines like United and others are piloting programs that make it easier to provide necessary health and testing information to airport officials. Airlines also are working with tech and medical companies to get same-day tests with results uploaded into an app that can be shared with governments at travelers’ final destination.

Obviously, these health screenings, whether in the form of confirming a negative test for SARS-CoV-2 or in the future providing a record proving vaccination against the virus, would be most effective if they’re required by governments or by the airlines themselves.

For those who need to travel, whether for medical, school, or job purposes, there’s a sense of comfort in knowing that measures are being taken to protect others on the flight as well as those at your destination by requiring negative test results for the SARS-CoV-2 virus before boarding a flight.

That’s a step in the right direction that the Leon Guerrero administration ought to seriously consider. It helps the community feel more comfortable with reopening the economy and welcoming visitors.

“Our response to COVID-19 has always been driven by the need to protect the safety of our residents and community. The pre-travel testing program allows us to do this while welcoming more people to our state. The increased economic activity will help strengthen our communities,” Hawaii’s Gov. David Ige stated.

The Aloha state has a website where travelers are required to provide information including a health check within 24 hours of boarding your flight. Among the information a traveler - at this point - may include to avoid the mandatory 14-day quarantine is a negative nucleic acid amplification test.

Guam’s Department of Public Health and Social Service administers the PCR test, which is a type of nucleic acid amplification test and is accepted by the Hawaii government.

The test result is uploaded by each traveler into his or her own file on the state website. When the required virtual forms are completed the site generates a QR code that allows screeners in Honolulu to get into your specific information without violating federal health privacy laws.

Failure to provide these requirements means a 14-day quarantine - and unlike Guam quarantine at a hotel is paid out of the traveler’s pocket and not the government. And at a minimum of about $120 a day, it’s pretty certain that quarantining would be something most people would want to avoid.

Talk about incentive.

Guam needs to provide a similar protocol, in a way that is easy for travelers to understand the requirements and provide the necessary information.

It takes a while to get the necessary information and to upload everything. It’s worth it, however, to avoid paying more than $1,000 to be locked up in a a room for two weeks after getting off a plane ride that also cost about $1,000 if not more.

And as we stated earlier, there’s also the sense of comfort in traveling to a destination that is taking the health of their community seriously.

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