This is an update on an eTN article published earlier entitled” Hawaii Governor Ige allowing an increase in tourism puts residents and visitors in danger.
Calling the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) at 808-973-2255 is answered with the following recorded message: The mailbox for the person you’re calling is currently full and cannot take messages.
At the same time, HTA is in charge of managing tourists still arriving in the Aloha State. Unfortunately, the number of tourists arriving seems to be increasing. Airlines remain irresponsible, charging the lowest rates ever for visitors to come to the state. This is supported and copied by the few hotels and resorts still open on Hawaii’s beaches.
Of course, 100-200 visitors arriving every day is not a big number compared to 30,000 visitors arriving on a normal day. Unfortunately, it only takes one tourist bringing in the coronavirus for that small number to be a big problem. This one tourist can have catastrophic deadly consequences for Hawaii’s residents, airlines, hospitality staff, and for remaining visitors.
Yesterday, 654 people arrived in Hawaii including 160 visitors and 239 residents. In comparison, during this same time last year, nearly 30,000 passengers arrived in Hawaii daily including residents and visitors.
The Hawaii Tourism Authority is in charge of verifying hotel or apartment information for arriving visitors, but the agency seems to be ill-staffed and incapable of keeping those visitors under control. eTurboNews reporters in Waikiki see visitors walking on the beach every day. Visitors are seen in the ocean playing ball and learning to surf.
Visitors arriving are required by law to isolate in their hotel room or vacation rental for 14 days. There is no effective mechanism to control this 100 percent. It takes only one visitor carrying the virus. There is a chance this visitor may have already infected transportation and airport workers before this guest even checks into his or her hotel.
Tourists have been stopped and arrested, and visitors are seen in groups enjoying closed parks. On the island of Hawaii, a visitor never checked into his or her hotel and is at large. This may be the case all over the Aloha State.
Currently, Hawaii reported a total of 435 cases of COVID-19 today with 328 on Oahu, 54 in Maui, 26 on the island of Hawaii, and 18 in Kauai. Five people in Hawaii have died from the coronavirus. This is a low number compared to many states, triggering Governor Ige to tell Hawaii today: “We have it under control!”
Mayors from all Hawaii counties urged Hawaii Governor Ige last week to ask President Trump to close Hawaii airports for tourist arrivals. This request from last week remains pending with no response by the Governor. At the same time, more and more tourists are arriving in the state every day.
Governor Ige today told a press conference that he checked with Federal Authorities. Federal Authorities would not entertain a request to shut down flights, unless there is an aviation related issue.
Federal authorities told the Governor, he will have jurisdictions over arriving passengers when they step into the airport. Ige said, he was consulting locally to require visitors to be quarantined at approved hotels only.
Jodi Leong, spokesperson for Governor Ige responded to eTurboNews yesterday: “The Governor is studying the possible unintended consequences of halting non-essential domestic travel to Hawaii – ranging from ALL non-essential travel to visitors only. He will make an announcement if and when he takes action on this proposal.”
Many residents in Hawaii, including all the staff of this publication, had urged Governor Ige to take action immediately. Hawaii’s best chance to get through this crisis is by taking advantage of our isolation on the globe. Nine island nations in the Pacific remain free of COVID-19.
“As an island state, we have a unique advantage,” said Juergen Steinmetz, publisher of eTurboNews. “We need strong leadership able to react to the deadly threat of COVID-19 without delay. It’s our only chance. The best way to show our Aloha Spirit is to the people of Hawaii at this time.”