As state phases out quarantine lodging, group steps in to help visitors who need to isolate

Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi doubled down on his message of personal responsibility Wednesday.
Published: Dec. 29, 2021 at 5:47 PM HST|Updated: Dec. 29, 2021 at 5:50 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - As the state phases out providing lodging for those who need to quarantine, an organization is stepping in to help visitors who need to isolate.

On Christmas weekend, Christian Cullen, a visitor from Canada, found himself in need of a place to stay when he tested positive for COVID before his flight.

That’s when the Visitor Aloha Society of Hawaii helped secure accommodations at a local hotel.

“I look at it this way, any visitor who comes to Hawaii and is in distress, that could be your brother, that could be your sister, that could be your mother, your aunty, so we’re here and that’s how we look at all of our visitors,” said Jessica Lani Rich, president of Visitor Aloha Society of Hawaii.

“We don’t want them to be left out in the cold.”

“They helped me get the hotel that I’m staying at. There was a bit of an uncertainty where I’m supposed to quarantine — where I can and can’t,” Cullen said. “They also sent me a little Christmas gift with some cookies and a card, which was very unexpected.”

The state Department of Health said after spending millions on hotel rooms to provide isolation, officials said most of the rooms were never used.

Officials said the need for quarantine outside the home is lower because of vaccinations and that most people realized isolating at home was just as effective.

The decision to offer quarantine facilities is now in the hands of the counties.

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