Hawaii Update: Interisland Travelers Ordered To Quarantine; Case Total Now At 204

Mar 30, 2020

Updated: 3/30/20, 5:04 p.m.

Hawaii Gov. David Ige is imposing a fourteen-day mandatory quarantine on interisland travelers starting on Wednesday. The emergency order will close a gap in the state safety net aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus.

Domestic and international travelers arriving here are already under a two-week quarantine order.

But some state lawmakers had questioned why interisland travelers weren’t subject to the same requirement.

Now they will be, but there are logistics to be worked out.

One is how essential workers like health care providers flying to another island will self-quarantine.

Ken Hara, director of the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency, said they will need to place themselves in quarantine where they are lodging.

"Then you go and travel to where you need to work or provide your care services. We're asking that you wear PPE (personal protective equiment) for at least 14 days while you're doing these services, and then upon completion, go back to your place of lodging and then you'll be subjected to the self-quarantine,” he said.

Hara said the state is looking at whether family members who fly to another island for a day or two will have to abide by the 14-day quarantine order as well.

Where Hawaii stands

Hawaii's coronavirus case count stands at 204, according to the state health department's latest update. The number of positive and presumptive positive cases represents an increase of 29 from Sunday. Oahu now has a total of 139 coronavirus cases, Maui 25, Kauai 12 and the Big Island 15. 

Eleven cases are pending county of diagnosis or residency and two residents were diagnosed out of state. Twelve of the total cases have required hospitalization.

There are no locally reported fatalities from COVID-19. Hawaii and Wyoming are the only states without coronavirus deaths as of Sunday afternoon.

Meanwhile, a Honolulu firefighter has tested positive for the coronavirus, the Honolulu Fire Department confirmed. The firefighter was on personal leave when he contracted the virus. Other personnel were not exposed, according to the department. HFD provided no other details in a news release.

Hawaii arrivals continue to drop as quarantine order takes hold

Sunday's arrival numbers released today show continuing declines in visitors and returning residents.

On the fourth day of the 14-day mandatory quarantine for incoming passengers, 826 people arrived -- only 167 were visitors, according to the Hawaii Tourism Authority. 

Most of those arriving were returning residents or flight crew members. 

See yesterday's updates: State plans stricter interisland travel, Honolulu firefigher has COVID-19

Sunday's total compares dramatically to numbers from last year around the same period, when more than 30,000 passengers arrived in the state daily, the HTA noted, counting both visitors and residents.

Hotels coping with coronavirus fallout

Hawaii hotels will not be functioning as they normally would during the coronavirus outbreak.

The state’s mandatory 14-day quarantine for residents and visitors coming to the islands went into effect last week, leading to sharp declines in visitor arrivals.

Visitors are now required to travel directly to their lodging and stay in their rooms during their trip.

Hawaii Lodging and Tourism President Mufi Hannemann says his organization – along with the Hawaii Tourism Authority – has given hotels guidance on operations during this time.

"Everything has to do with an emphasis on social distancing," Hannemann said. "From check-in, you’re not going to be treated the same way that you’ve been normally accustomed to when you check into a Hawaiian hotel. And then during the duration of stay, there’s going to be certain things that we will not do as a result of the social distancing."

 

For example, he said, the cleaning of the rooms will be very different. Employees won't enter the rooms. Instead, guests will have to place their used linen outside the door at specific times, and replace it with clean linen.

 

"Also, when it comes to hotel room service, it will be placed outside the door. We also are going to make sure that it is strictly enforced, that they not leave their room for the 14-day period," he said.

Hannemann says hotels are operating in a very limited capacity – such as a skeletal housekeeping crew, security and some front office personnel.

He says his group is asking government officials to create a relief package to help employees in the tourism industry.

Correction: A previous version of this story had noted Friday rather than Saturday for the latest passenger arrival numbers.

 

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

 

 

Editor's note: We’d like to hear how you’re coping with the latest developments in dealing with the spread of the coronavirus. You can call our talkback line at 808-792-8217. Or e-mail us at talkback@hawaiipublicradio.org.