Mayor calls on president to stop all non-essential travel to Hawaii

Updated: Mar. 31, 2020 at 4:04 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell is calling on the president to stop all non-essential travel to Hawaii following the state’s first coronavirus-related death.

Authorities have said the patient who died was an elderly Oahu resident with multiple health issues.

“COVID-19 is not a death sentence. Many people recover,” Caldwell said, at a news conference Tuesday. “But it needs to be taken seriously.”

Caldwell said he plans to send a letter to President Trump to push for a halt of all non-essential travel to the islands. Neighbor Island mayors have supported the move and the governor is reviewing it, Caldwell said.

The request comes amid growing concern about the spread of coronavirus in the islands. The state is now reporting 224 cases across the islands. Of those, 157 are on Oahu.

Hawaii reports first coronavirus-related death as total number of cases grows to 224

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The state has instituted a mandatory, 14-day quarantine for all incoming visitors and returning residents from the mainland and international destinations, and will expand the order to include inter-island travel Wednesday.

Under the mandate, visitor arrivals to Hawaii have slowed to a trickle. But some people are still coming. The Hawaii Tourism Authority said 121 visitors arrived in the islands on Monday.

That compares to about 30,000 people a day at the same time last year.

Caldwell said while there aren’t many visitors coming, those buying cheap tickets on empty airplanes still present a challenge. He said three people arrived last week who needed space at a homeless shelter.

They’ve been placed in quarantine, he said.

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He also said a family of four arrived without a hotel reservation.

“You show up on our shores, you’re putting a great burden on the limited resources we have,” Caldwell said. “Now is not the time to take a vacation to Hawaii.”

Other announcements made Tuesday:

  • All private golf courses are now closed to the public.
  • The city’s closure of bars, clubs and dine-in services at restaurants extends through April 30.
  • A new “holiday schedule” for the city bus takes effect Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Police Chief Susan Ballard said two officers have tested positive for coronavirus and two others are awaiting results.

A second Honolulu firefighter has also tested positive for the virus, authorities confirm.

And, Ballard said, officers continue to enforce stay-at-home orders. So far, police have issued at least 1,500 warnings and 180 citations, and made nine arrests.

At the news conference, she and Caldwell also urged the State Judiciary not to address prison overpopulation by releasing scores of inmates during the pandemic.

"If they come back out and they don't have a place to go to, and they don't have a job to do, and they have no income, they are going to do what they know how to do and that could be breaking in and entering again, putting more burden on our police officers," Caldwell said.

Ballard echoed his concern.

“We don’t want to release any more criminals out on the road. The anxiety is going to increase,” she said. “I can’t imagine that feeling and we don’t want to put our community through that.”

This story will be updated.

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