Hawaii’s Lieutenant Governor Josh Green said that due to a new wave of the virus, the Aloha State is going to push back its previously announced target date for welcoming back outside visitors.
On the heels of a marathon series of meetings with local health officials and mayors, and while the state’s reopening to tourism is currently scheduled for August 1, reports say that Governor David Ige may soon announce a delay on the date.
Green mentioned “The governor has to make this decision. The best is to delay the matter so that we’re safer, so we can get ahead and control the virus with certainty, and then give a date.”
Economists would like the people to assume responsibility for safety measures and re-welcome tourism for revenue’s sake, but this goes against some officials and health experts who say that Hawaii simply isn’t ready for the health risk.
Tim Brown, a senior research fellow with the East-West Center, supports the probable postponement. Even without the element of receiving outsiders, Hawaii has seen 26 new coronavirus cases a day over the past week, and the rising numbers both at home and on the U.S. mainland don’t bode well. He also said that Hawaii really can’t afford to allow tourists in, unless, the daily count for new infections gets back to single-digits.
The senior researcher told KHON2 that many residents are not wearing their face masks and failing to practice social-distancing. He suggested that state officials should take action to reinforce the impact and seriousness of these protocols.
“I think we need an actual public service announcement campaign of several million dollars, probably hiring professional firms to get this message across and to explain to people, look, your irresponsibility is the reason we can’t open the economy,” Brown continued firmly.
An option permitting inbound visitors to present evidence of a negative COVID-19 PCR test result upon arrival in order to bypass the strict two-week quarantine was included in the upcoming plan for reopening, which was required and well-enforced (unlike in some other states).
Weeks ago, Brown had authored a report in which he estimated that such pre-testing protocols would filter out between 80 and 90 percent of infected passengers, resulting in about five infected travelers entering the state each day.
If tourists were welcomed to Hawaii right now, the number would be more like 15 to 20 cases per day and when added to the current level of community spread, would leave Hawaii in a very bad place.