Governor: Now Is Not a Good Time to Travel to Hawaiʻi
Despite a seven-day average of more than 600 positive COVID-19 cases and restrictions on large gatherings on Oʻahu, Gov. David Ige did not announce any new restrictions at a press conference Monday.
If the case numbers continue to grow exponentially, Ige said another lockdown may be expected in the future.
Ige asked that visitors and residents reduce travel to the islands to essential business only while the state struggles to control COVID-19. He wants to curtail travel through the end of October.
“It is a risky time to be traveling right now,” he said.
The governor and the Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority have discussed plans to limit travelers with various sections of the tourism industry (hotels, rental cars, airlines), but no concrete plans have been announced.
The governor said there are limits to what he can do to discourage visitors from coming to the islands. It would be a violation of anti-trust laws to tell airlines to cut back on flights or raise ticket prices, he said.
That leaves persuasion.
"We are going to be requesting all of our travel partners to communicate the fact that it’s not a good time to be traveling to the islands," Ige said at the press conference.
He said restaurant capacity has been restricted and there's limited access to rental cars.
Ige stopped short of a mandate, saying it’s a different time now than last year when strict quarantine rules essentially shut down Hawaiʻi’s tourism industry.
“Last year in March, when I first asked for visitors to postpone travel to the islands, we saw a 60% reduction in the traffic to Hawaiʻi" Ige said. “And then certainly, ordering the mandatory quarantine of all incoming visitors reduced travel to the islands by 99.5%, essentially 100% of travelers.”
Now there are vaccines available, along with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention saying fully vaccinated people can travel domestically.
Hawaiʻi Department of Health Director Dr. Libby Char said the vaccine is the most effective method to combat the virus and prevent a longer pandemic.
Sixty-two percent of Hawaiʻi's population is currently fully vaccinated. Information on the COVID-19 vaccine can be found here.