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As mainland destinations reopen, some question what’s holding Hawaii back

Published: Jun. 2, 2021 at 6:59 PM HST|Updated: Jun. 3, 2021 at 10:02 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - As tourist destinations on the mainland reopen fully, Hawaii’s governor continues to push back against reducing business restrictions in the islands.

Nightclubs remain closed, and capacity and gathering limits remain in place.

That isn’t the case on the mainland.

Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi recently submitted a plan to Gov. David Ige to ease some of the restraints on businesses given that more than half of the state’s population is already fully vaccinated.

But he said the governor wants to see the vaccination rate hit 60%.

“I think at the 60% vaccinated level, hopefully we’ll see some significant modifications, including travel as well,” said Blangiardi.

“But we’re almost there. We are almost there. We will get there. That’s not a maybe kind of deal.”

Business leaders note that former COVID hotspots like Las Vegas and New York have fully reopened their tourism economies as the number of COVID cases dropped and vaccination rates increased.

They said many of the emergency restrictions on businesses are still in place in Hawaii ― even though Hawaii has some of the highest vaccination rates and lowest case counts in the country.

“There’s a lot of states that are (lower) and they’re fully reopened,” said Sherry Menor-McNamara, Chamber of Commerce Hawaii CEO.

“Actually, Hawaii is the only state that has no reopening date or plans set yet,”

Blangiardi said the city will meet with the governor’s team Friday to negotiate on further easing the restrictions.

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