Mayor, gov reach agreement on COVID-19 travel testing

Mayor Harry Kim said Friday afternoon he’s reached agreement with Gov. David Ige on a deal that would allow the county to administer a rapid-response COVID-19 antigen test to arriving out-of-state passengers at Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport at Keahole starting Thursday.

That test would be in addition to the nucleic acid amplification test, or NAAT, that travelers can take from a so-called “trusted partner” of the state within 72 hours prior of travel to Hawaii.


Kim said the rapid-response test “would be the test where the swab is ringed around (inside) the nostril, not the one where you stick the swab way up the nose.”

According to Kim, his agreement with Ige includes no additional quarantine imposed by the county after the post-arrival testing, should the rapid-response test result be negative.

The testing location will be at the vacant site across from the Kona airport where car rentals used to be. Premier Medical Group Will administer the tests.

The rapid-response test renders its results in about 15 minutes.

Those who receive a positive result from that test will immediately be given a polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, test, known as the “gold standard” test, and will have to quarantine at their hotel or place of residence until results are received.

All testing upon arrival will be done at the county’s expense, and will cost travelers nothing.

Those who underwent a test prior to travel but didn’t receive results before landing will still have to quarantine until those test results are received, regardless of the rapid-response test results.

Travelers who forego testing prior to travel will still be subject to a 14-day quarantine upon arrival.

There are currently no trans-Pacific flights arriving at Hilo International Airport.


A 14-day quarantine for interisland travelers remains in effect until further notice.

Email John Burnett at

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