Hawaii Updates: One New Case; Interisland Travel Quarantine Lifts June 16, Out-Of-State Up Next

Jun 2, 2020

Updated: 6/2/2020, 11:58 a.m.

Where we stand

Hawaii recorded one new coronavirus cases today, this one on Oahu, for another day of single or zero cases that have spurred reopenings across the state.

The state health department now reports the number of recorded cases at 653; deaths remain at 17. The case count for Oahu is at 422, Maui County at 120, Hawaii Island at 81 and Kauai at 20. There are 10 cases diagnosed out of state. Some 609 people have been released from isolation.

After interisland travel quarantine lifts, the how of out-of-state travel comes next

Now that Gov. David Ige has announced the lifting of the 14-day quarantine for interisland travelers starting on June 16, attention turns next to when the state will take similar steps for domestic and international passengers.

Ige said at a news briefing yesterday at the Honolulu international airport that he plans to make an announcement next week regarding out-of-state and trans-Pacific travelers. They will remain under the mandatory quarantine order for the time being.

Those from out of state still need to abide by the quarantine even if they take an interisland flight after they arrive from other states or countries.

As tourism reopens, the governor said the state will want to focus on domestic locations and countries that have contained COVID-19 cases as Hawaii has and that have similar screening and contact tracing in place.

Last week, a group of business representatives led by Central Pacific Bank executive Paul Yonamine suggested that a "travel bubble" between Hawaii and Japan could be established to exchange tourists. They pointed to the relatively low numbers of new COVID-19 cases among the Japanese and their adherence to safety rules. 

California, while one of Hawaii's largest visitor markets, still reports thousands of new cases weekly, which is a cause for concern, the governor said.

Ige said other economies that have opened too quickly have seen secondary spikes. Some have been forced to reimpose restrictions that had been eased.

Even if the state reopens carefully, officials expect the number of COVID-19 cases will rise once again as travel is freely allowed, so it been taking steps to prepare for increasing numbers of visitors.

The state said the Department of Health has begun training 500 new contact tracers while "exploring other screening and testing procedures."

--HPR's Sandee Oshiro

Hawaiian Air takes steps to ensure safe travel

Hawaiian Airlines has begun implementing new safety procedures for interisland flights as the state prepares to lift the quarantine requirement for those passengers.

Hawaiian Airlines CEO Peter Ingram says the company has new cleaning, social distancing, and seating measures so passengers can “travel with confidence.”

Yesterday's Hawaii Updates: Interisland Travel Quarantine Lifts June 16; Reopenings Statewide This Week; No New Cases

"One of the things we looked at was cleaning the airplanes. As the CDC has changed their cleaning recommendations, we’ve gone and looked at what equipment we could get what cleaning supplies we should be using. One of the ones we’re using is an electrostatic mister," he said.

"That goes through the airplane and applies a mist that keeps the airplane free from germs and viruses – including the virus that causes COVID-19."

He said the airlines boarding process is changing. "We’re going to board purely by rows, so not boarding by first-class first, not boarding based on status levels, but just to minimize the amount of interaction people have," he said.

Ingram said the company will also limit the number of passengers on flights to provide more distance between people.

Disclosure: Hawaiian Airlines is an underwriter of Hawaii Public Radio.

--HPR's Casey Harlow

Hannemann announces run for his old seat

The race for Honolulu mayor has added a familiar name.

Mufi Hannemann has made it official: he wants his old job back, and he’s joining a crowded field.

Hannemann was the city’s mayor from 2005 to 2010, when he stepped down to run for governor — a race that he lost.

He says the latest poll showing that nearly a third of voters remain undecided was what convinced him to run.

He filed the official papers yesterday, along with former television executive Rick Blangiardi, realtor Choon James and City Councilwoman Kymberly Pine.

Other candidates include former Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa and former High School Athletics Association Executive Director Keith Amemiya.

Also running are former state senator John Carroll and a one-time Republican candidate for lieutenant governor, Marissa Kerns.

The primary election for the non-partisan race is Aug. 8.

If no candidate wins an outright majority, there will be a general election runoff in November between the top two finishers.

--HPR's Bill Dorman

Industry official says 60% of restaurants may not reopen

On Friday, eating in restaurants will once again be allowed on Oahu --joining other islands that eased those rules starting yesterday.

Greg Maples, the incoming chairman of the Hawai'i Restaurant Association, says the new COVID-19 restaurant landscape could be a surprise for local diners.

He expects most restaurants now offering take out will expand to dining if they had it before. Still, the calculation over re-opening is difficult.

"The restaurants that have closed during the pandemic, probably 60% won't open again. We're opening up these restaurants to kama'aina, instead of losing 80%, now maybe you're going to be up to 60% loss in sales," he said.

"Gov. Ige, I'm praying in my mind that he does not extend that 14-day quarantine past June 30th because if he does, that will literally be the nail in the coffin for so many people. They won't even try."

Maples says only half of past capacity will be allowed in dining rooms, menus will be wiped or thrown away. He says to expect masks, gloves, signs and plexiglass as part of your next restaurant experience.

--HPR's Noe Tanigawa

State says student, visitor broke travel quarantine

State attorney general investigators arrested a Hawaii college student yesterday for allegedly violating the 14-day travel quarantine order.

The state said in a news release that Venasio Vaipulu, 21, returned from spring break but left his quarantine location "nearly daily," the state said in a press release. When investigators went to look for Vaipulu, they discovered he had moved without informing the state of his new residence.

Vaipulu was arrested on charges of violating his self-quarantine and unsworn falsification to authority. He was booked, charged and had bail set at $4,000, the state said.

In another case, 18-year-od Makayla Janay Thomas of Victorville, Calif., arrived on May 17 and said she was staying with relatives for a month. Attorney general investigators said she began documenting her travels on Instagram several days after arriving at a Mililani home.

They said her social media postings showed her at "various beaches, shopping centers and local eateries," the state's news release said. A local group monitoring social media alerted the attorney general's office to Thomas' postings.

Investigators said Thomas was arrested Thursday on charges of violating the mandatory quarantine and unsworn falsification to authority. She was booked and charged and had bail set at $2,000. 

"We encourage all residents and visitors to respect the mandatory self-quarantine, as it has contributed [to] the low infection and death rates in Hawai‘i," said Attorney General Clare Connors.

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 COVID-19 developments and the state's phased reopening. You can call our talkback line at 808-792-8217. Or e-mail us at talkback@hawaiipublicradio.org.