As mainland cases spike, county mayors want a tourism restart delayed

Published: Jul. 13, 2020 at 10:13 AM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - With some mainland states seeing all-time record highs for coronavirus cases, some in Hawaii want the state to rethink their plan to reopen tourism on Aug. 1.

The county mayors have expressed concerns with the state’s plan that allows visitors to avoid the mandatory 14-day quarantine come Aug. 1 if they show proof of a negative COVID test prior to traveling.

Maui Mayor Michael Victorino said when the state collectively decided on the Aug. 1 restart date roughly three weeks ago, Hawaii had lower case counts. Cases also weren’t spiking on the mainland, but that has since changed. The weekend brought on 64 new cases total for Hawaii, while major states saw jumps by the thousands.

He now wants Gov. Ige to reconsider.

“We’re very concerned about starting Aug. 1 because we’re not ready, and most of us feel we’re not ready at this juncture,” Mayor Victorino said.

Stating specific reasons for his concern, Mayor Victorino pointed to the difficulty of travelers getting tested ahead of flights, along with a flawed contact tracing system.

“We’re not feeling comfortable that we’re in a good position to get started, and I think all the mayors will agree with that,” he added. “We’re just not in a good position. I know the state and the governor wants to reopen, like us, however we want to make sure that our health and well-being of our citizens, our residents, are our priority.”

Meanwhile the tourism industry continues to struggle under the financial pressure of the economic fallout. Some hotels, airlines and restaurants are in dire need of Hawaii to welcome back visitors, so workers can return and income can once again be generated.

But the results of a new public opinion poll conducted by the University of Hawaii Public Policy Center showed most residents aren’t ready to welcome back tourists with open arms.

Some 81 percent of those polled said they did not want “tourists coming to visit my community right now,” while majority also opted for long-term changes to the tourism industry to ensure health and safety is maintained.

You can read the full results of the poll below:

Gov. Ige hasn’t yet announced if he will push back the date.

This story will be updated.

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