Mayor: Kauai unlikely to rejoin Safe Travels program for mainland visitors until May

Mayor Derek Kawakami: Kauai will not rejoin transpacific safe travels program until mid to late May

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - In what’s expected to be a major blow to tourism-focused businesses, Kauai’s mayor said the island likely won’t rejoin a state program that allows mainland visitors to present a negative COVID-19 test in order to bypass quarantine until mid- to late May.

Kauai remains the only island that has opted out of the Safe Travels program mainland visitors.

“Our goal is always to base our schedule on level of acceptable risk,” Kawakami said.

“And the numbers are low but our vaccine clinics are running at a very good pace, and what we focus on is getting our most vulnerable and frontline workers fully vaccinated.”

On Wednesday, dozens of business owners met at Vidinha Stadium in Lihue to express their frustration with the island’s ongoing closure. They say they’re suffering without tourists and may have to close their doors for good within the month. Some have already shut down.

Kawakami acknowledged that the economy is “taking a hit.”

“Everybody is getting tired and fatigued of COVID-19, but you know, the overall picture, Kauai has been open and we are fighting every single day to get everybody open and surviving through this,” he said.

He added, “Having uniformity has its pros, but if you have one island that is under duress, should that impact every other island?”

Kauai opted out of the Safe Travels program late last year after a surge in travel-related cases. It did, however, begin allowing inter-island passengers to utilize the Safe Travels program.

Kauai has seen several days of no COVID-19 cases since opting out of the program in December.

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