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Great news for anyone planning on going to Hawaii when it opens up without a mandatory 14-day quarantine as long as you get a COVID-19 test that produces a negative reading within 72-hours prior to their flight arrival.

As I wrote about last week, Hawaii announced a re-opening date of October 15. I felt this date was going to stick as long as COVID-19 cases don’t skyrocket on the mainland and on the islands. And that was before this big announcement from United (below) that the state is now going to accept rapid tests and not just PCR, which required lab work and don’t have quick return time (some tests have taken up to two weeks for results).

This morning, United Airlines became the first U.S. airline to launch a COVID-19 pilot testing program for travelers that could make it easier for them to manage the quarantine requirements and entry conditions of popular destinations around the world. Starting on October 15, customers traveling on United from San Francisco International Airport (SFO) to Hawaii will have the option to take a rapid test at the airport or a self-collected, mail-in test ahead of their trip.

The first and quickest option is visiting SFO’s GoHealth Urgent Care testing center before your flight. It’s been there since July but it was just for airport and airline employees. Customers can schedule their visits online in advance for the on-site testing facility, located at the international terminal and will receive their results in approximately 15 minutes. GoHealth Urgent Care’s dedicated COVID-19 testing area will be available from 9am to 6pm PT daily. The price for the rapid testing option provided by GoHealth is currently $250, but the price is expected to come down.

The second option is the mail-in test: “United will email customers traveling from San Francisco to Hawaii an invitation to purchase ($80 + shipping) their physician-ordered Color self-collection kit at least 10 days ahead of their departure, collect their own samples at home 72 hours prior to their departure and return their test via overnight mail or to a drop box at SFO.”

“Color then processes those tests at their local, CLIA-certified COVID-19 testing laboratory and returns results via text and/or email within 24-48 hours. Color’s self-collection kit includes a plastic collection tube, a non-invasive nasal swab and instructions on how to properly collect a specimen.”

This is great news for United customers flying from SFO to avoid the state’s current 14-day quarantine requirement. Hopefully, they will extend airports and airlines so everyone going to the islands can have this option.

Be sure to check out for up-to-date information on Hawaii’s entry requirements. Currently it states, “Whether through CVS, Kaiser Permanente or another source, it is the traveler’s responsibility to confirm they are receiving the correct test.”

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