Honolulu mayoral candidates agree it’s time to reopen tourism, despite the risks

Updated: Oct. 15, 2020 at 5:25 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The next mayor of Honolulu will start the job just a few months after the relaunch of tourism thanks to a new traveler testing program.

That program is expected to catch most infected travelers, but not all of them.

State leaders estimate that about 1 in 1,000 travelers ill be infected with COVID-19.

It’s a calculated risk, and one that Honolulu mayoral candidates Keith Amemiya and Rick Blangiardi say they’re willing to take.

“I think we need to get going. I think we need to get our people going, our people back to work," Blangiardi said. “We need to try to open up for tourism.”

Amemiya agreed.

“We’ll rely on the advice of medical care experts, but instinctively, I say yes," he said.

“If that’s what it takes to reopen the economy than I’m willing to take that risk. Let’s monitor the situation if the cases spike than we reevaluate it.”

Both candidates say too many businesses have suffered for too long.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell says Oahu is poised to move to the next phase of its tiered recovery Thursday, allowing more businesses to reopen and easing other restrictions.

Amemiya has concerns about that tiered system.

“My concern is it’s going to take took long to get to the fourth tier and the reopening of businesses and economy,” said Amemiya. “Our businesses can’t afford to wait that long."

Blangiardi, though, said the tier system “is about behavior modification.”

“At the end of the day I think this is group behavior," he said. “I think it’s more effective than the citations we’ve given out.”

Both candidates, meanwhile, agree Hawaii should never return to 30,000 visitors per day.

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