As US cases surge, council asks state to ‘consider’ delaying changes to travel restrictions

As US cases surge, council asks state to ‘consider’ delaying changes to travel restrictions
Mandates are aimed at bringing tourism — the state’s no. 1 economic driver — to a standstill and keeping the vast majority of the population at home until the risk of an exponential rise in cases subsides. Location: Ala Moana Beach / April 1, 2020 (Source: Jonathan Jared Saupe / Digital Content Creator / Hawaii News Now)

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - As the total number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. balloons past three million, local officials are asking the governor to re-evaluate aspects of a plan allowing trans-Pacific passengers to bypass a mandatory 14-day quarantine upon arriving in Hawaii ― including delaying its implementation.

The sudden surge in cases, both in Hawaii and on the mainland, has alarmed local officials, including Mayor Kirk Caldwell and Lt. Gov. Josh Green. Hawaii reported a single-day record 41 new confirmed cases on Tuesday, and other states ― including California, which reported 9,500 new infections on the same day ― have done the same.

More than 60,000 new cases were reported nationwide on Wednesday, according the Covid Tracking Project.

In response, the Honolulu City Council voted unanimously on Wednesday to pass a resolution that asks the governor to ‘consider’ pausing his plan ― which is currently scheduled to go into effect on August 1,

“My concern is when we open our islands once again, we will be attracting visitors who will display the same kind of cavalier and irresponsible attitudes regarding the health of the public, as they’ve shown in the mainland communities in which they reside,” said Chair Emeritus Ron Menor said in a statement.

Included within the City Council’s resolution is a suggestion that the state require incoming travelers to take a second coronavirus test, within seven days of the test that is already required, to confirm that they are not infected with the virus.

Gov. David Ige’s plan to allow passengers to bypass quarantine, as presently constituted, calls for passengers to submit a negative coronavirus test that was taken within three days of the flight’s departure.

The passengers would have to quarantine while they awaited the results of the second coronavirus test.

Josh Stanbro, a member of Caldwell’s cabinet and the city’s Chief Resilience Officer, says the city agrees with the council’s request.

“We cannot afford to give up the hard-fought gains that responsible residents and island business have won by adhering to the new COVID safety standards,” said Stanbro. “The administration supports the principles in Resolution 20-164, FD1 because we’ve always thought more testing is better than less, and that the quarantine is a critical backstop that must be strictly enforced to protect our community.”

The City Council also wants the state to work with private labs to increase the state’s testing capabilities, and to develop a better system to contact trace incoming passengers and tourism industry employees.

This story will be updated.

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