KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii — The mayor of Hawaii County has said the state will not be ready to reopen to tourists Sept. 1 or accept university students from outside the state by Aug. 24.
Mayor Harry Kim criticized plans to use a combination of preflight testing and 14-day quarantines for travelers who are not tested or who test positive before arriving in Hawaii, West Hawaii Today reported Sunday.
The system is not feasible without methods of effectively separating the two groups and properly monitoring those who need to be quarantined, he said.
The state was not ready for those measures when it set Aug. 1 as the first proposed date for reopening and will not be ready to reopen Sept. 1, Kim said.
Democratic Gov. David Ige announced July 13 he would wait until Sept. 1 to waive the 14-day quarantine requirement for out-of-state travelers who test negative for COVID-19.
Kim urged Ige and Hawaii's other mayors not to attach a date to reopening, but instead to wait until the state is ready, especially in light of what he called the “explosive” situation of double-digit increases in coronavirus cases and deaths in the continental U.S.
"The mission is to protect the people of the state of Hawaii. The system is not ready,” Kim said.
Kim has often been at odds with the governor and other mayors in discussions over reopening since Ige's administration announced strict health and travel restrictions in March to stem the spread of the virus.
“We are on the threshold of major decision-making. I wish I was wrong. I just don’t feel comfortable with where we’re at right now,” Kim said.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. But for some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.