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Butler Co. woman forced to quarantine on Hawaii vacation after not having COVID-19 test results

BUTLER COUNTY, Pa. — Krystal Unverzagt of Butler County missed out on several days of her family vacation in Hawaii after being forced to quarantine, even though she tested negative for COVID-19.

The state of Hawaii requires a negative COVID-19 test result or proof of vaccination before getting on a flight, to avoid mandatory quarantine. The results must be uploaded prior to departure, and the state only accepts specific tests from a trusted lab.

“Whenever we landed, we didn’t have our COVID test results because we flew out on a Tuesday. They were closed Friday, Saturday, Sunday because of the new year, so we had to get tested on Monday because it has to be within 72 hours of arriving in Hawaii, which was impossible because they only accept certain tests from certain locations,” said Unverzagt.

Unverzagt is unvaccinated and received her negative test result a few hours after she landed in Hawaii. However, she said the Honolulu airport staff told her she had to either fly home, or fly to California to take a test then fly back or get a hotel to self-quarantine for five days.

She paid for a hotel room because she said she wasn’t allowed to quarantine with her family in their Airbnb rental.

“The logic with the hotel stay instead of the Airbnb (was) so that hotel staff could monitor us during quarantine. They didn’t give (us) room keys, so if we were to leave we wouldn’t be able to get back in. They call the hotel phone, and they are also allowed to show up and make sure you’re in that room,” said Unverzagt.

Unverzagt said if she left quarantine early, she would be fined $5,000 or be arrested.

“I felt like I did something wrong, like I was in jail with the threat of going to jail, or getting a fine for breaking quarantine while being negative,” said Unverzagt.

A travel agent said Hawaii is a popular tourism spot with small islands where they want to protect its residents from the virus, and this is why they have strict travel restrictions.

“If you’re planning a trip to Hawaii, I would definitely recommend you would be fully vaccinated. It’s going to make the process much easier. If you’re not fully vaccinated, you will have to get that test. If you don’t have the test result in hand, you(’ve) got to delay your trip, because the alternative is definitely a quarantine at your own expense and adds days to your trip. I encourage people to get travel insurance,” said Mollie Fitzgerald, the co-owner of Frontiers International Travel.

Krystal’s five-day quarantine ended on Saturday. She’s now with her family in Hawaii.

Channel 11 reached out to the Hawaii state health department and Department of Transportation to get some answers:

“We advise people not board a flight to Hawaii without being vaccinated or without proof of a negative COVID-19 test within 72-hours of departure.

The rules are clear. Anyone who boards a flight to Hawaii without being vaccinated or proof a negative COVID-19 test within 72-hours of departure will face quarantine upon arrive.

We advise people consider the potential expense associated with travel to Hawaii, especially during a surge in COVID-19 cases. Anyone who tests positive while in the islands must isolate and will not be allowed to travel until isolation is complete.”

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