Signs of economic relief abound as vaccination rates, visitor counts steadily rise
HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - With mass vaccinations and a rebounding tourism market, some feel Hawaii’s economy is finally turning the corner.
“It’s really becoming a much more healthy, normal psychological environment,” said Lt. Gov. Josh Green.
“There’s still a little bit ways to go probably two months away an approximation of herd immunity.”
On Friday, the daily visitor count hit 24,000. That’s about 75 percent of the 2019 peaks and compares with May 7, 2020′s daily count, which was less than 600.
It’s not just economics that is driving the optimism.
Hawaii’s vaccination rates are among the highest in the nation. The state hopes to hit its goal of 1 million residents fully vaccinated by June or July, bringing Hawaii closer the so-called goal of herd immunity.
And with the increased vaccination rates, the community is able to open up more.
For instance, for the first time in two years, Hawaii schools were able to hold in-person graduation ceremonies this past week.
And on Sunday, families celebrated Mother’s Day reunions -- not virtual meetings like last year.
“I think we’re starting to turn. I think were’ starting to heal as long as everyone keeps on getting vaccinated, wears their mask, social distancing,” said Tina Yamaki, president of the Retail Merchants of Hawaii.
But Yamaki said there are still too many sectors -- especially retail and restaurants -- that are struggling.
“There are still a lot of businesses trying to recover. They’re still in debt right now. They haven’t paid their commercial rent in almost a year,” she said.
Green says there’s hope Hawaii’s economy will improve more after Japan lifts its self imposed 14-day quarantine for travelers. That’s likely to occur after the Tokyo Olympics in August.
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