Hawaii has been struggling with protecting “its people vs. its economy” since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. Governor David Ige closed the state down early on, and, since Hawaii is composed of a group of islands, that closure included most interisland travel. So if, for example, you lived on Maui, you stayed on Maui and could only visit other islands with a 14-day quarantine upon arrival. Although there were more cases on the Big Island, keeping citizens of each island separated helped keep the cases in Kaua’i, for example, comparatively lower. All told, at least compared to the mainland U.S., Hawaii’s numbers, much like those of the Florida Keys (who also kept visitors out for an extended period of time) have remained relatively low.
Gov. Ige’s plan to reopen Hawaii has always been to open interisland travel first and then look at domestic and international travel, once they figured out a safe way to do it.
Reopening the islands to international or domestic travel has been delayed several times, but the ability to travel from island to island without quarantine began on June 16th. Unfortunately, over time, the state’s numbers of people with COVID-19 has increased ever since. In fact, the mayor of Maui County has recently asked Gov. Ige to reinstate the 14-day quarantine for interisland travel, in an attempt to control the virus before it gets too out of hand.
Meanwhile, the University of Hawaii surveyed over 600 Hawaiian residents and 81% of them said they’re not ready for tourism to begin in their communities.
When asked what they thought was the most effective measures taken to combat the pandemic, over half of the respondents said it was the overseas tourism quarantine. When asked what Hawaii could have done better, the two most popular choices were even greater restrictions on tourism and more effective enforcement of the quarantine (after incidents like this, it seems Hawaii is focusing more on that right now. Perhaps something like this will work?).
When asked about a second wave of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus, over 2/3 of the respondents thought it was probable and a majority said they’d be willing to go undergo stay-at-home orders and other restrictions in order to decrease cases.
When asked to choose between “Just getting tourism going for now” and “Making big changes to the nature of tourism first,” 69% said they’d prefer big changes first (i.e. how many visitors come to Hawaii and what type of tourism the state attracts.) Only 19% were in favor of starting tourism as soon as possible and the rest were undecided
Interestingly, the researchers found that, in general, respondents from lower-income brackets and those who suffered the most financially during the pandemic were more likely to support a second shutdown and least supportive of tourism resuming in its current form.
“In particular, we note with admiration the selflessness of many lower-income households that were more willing to repeat restrictions despite the fact that they have been disproportionately affected by Covid-19,” the report’s authors said in their closing thoughts. “Respondents have serious concerns when it comes to tourism. There is limited trust in the state and industry working together and even less trust in the travel industry to reopen tourism safely.”
The study can be found here.
Feature Photo: U.S. Marine Corps / Cpl. Nathan Wicks
#stayhealthy #staysafe #washyourhands #wearamask
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary