Despite governor’s plea, visitors are still coming ... and crowding into eateries

Updated: Mar. 18, 2020 at 8:51 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Despite government warnings not to travel, many visitors are arriving at Honolulu’s airport for spring break vacations.

They’re also gathering in enclosed spaces.

In Waikiki on Wednesday, the beaches were packed and so were some of the restaurants.

In a news conference a day earlier, Gov. David Ige stopped short of ordering all eateries to close their dining rooms ― opting to say that’s what they “should” do.

It’s direction many restaurants are ignoring though that might change following the city’s mandate to close dine-in areas by Friday night.

Across the street from Waikiki’s world famous beach on Wednesday morning, patrons packed the tables of many oceanside eateries. The McDonald’s on Kalakaua Avenue was one of the few exceptions where chairs were missing from patio.

“It’s a very difficult decision, so I understand what all owners and managers are going through right now,” said Mike Palmer, general manager of the The Street Food Hall at the International Marketplace.

Palmer made the call to close his two bars Wednesday morning. All nine restaurants are open, but it’s far from business as usual.

“Even though it’s not mandated, we thought to be proactive for the safety of our team and our guests to go ahead and not offer in house dining," Palmer said.

"But make take out available at all of our concepts.”

At Honolulu International Airport, meanwhile, flights continue coming in. Many are carrying far fewer passengers, though.

“Only 76 people I think. Everyone had their own row to lay down,” said Dallas resident Assata Thomas.

One Utah woman said she decided to come when she couldn’t cancel her flight.

“We made reservations a while ago,” said Savannah Echohawk."We didn’t have many options beside just lose our money."

For others, it was a last-minute decision.

Misty Cragg said she and her husband got their flights for $197 per person roundtrip.

The California couple was supposed to go to Tahiti, but cancelled Tuesday when they got word they’d be required to spend 14 days in quarantine.

Since Hawaii doesn’t have that restriction, they opted to come to Oahu instead.

“We got laptops out and said this is where we want to be and booked a trip in less than 21 hours,” said Chris Cragg.

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