Strike Hawaiian summer getaway off the list. Governor David Ige announced on Tuesday that the state is pushing back trans-Pacific travel to the islands until at least Oct. 1.
Previously, Hawaii had intended to open to tourism again on Sept. 1 by eliminating its mandatory 14-day quarantine for out-of-state visitors if they presented a negative COVID-19 test at the airport. However, the recent surge in cases led to the decision to delay the opening.
“We cannot deny that Hawaii is seeing a surge in the positive COVID-19 cases,” Ige said in a press conference. “There are numerous clusters and wide community spread.”
He added that there had been nearly 3,000 new cases since Aug. 1, which is more than the state had seen from March to July. Ige also expressed his condolences to the family of a coronavirus victim whose death was reported on Tuesday. An additional 134 cases were also reported, 124 of which were on Oahu. Since Feb. 28, Hawaii has seen a total of 4,878 positive cases and 41 deaths.
Aware of the strain the restriction puts on Hawaii’s tourism industry, he also announced that ample time will be given to businesses to prepare to welcome visitors, once it is safe to do so again.
The announcement extends the 14-day quarantine requirement put in place back in March — which was the first in the country at the time — restricting all visitors to two full weeks without leaving their hotel or rented lodging.
In addition to the travel restriction, Oahu is also implementing stricter measures as of midnight Wednesday. The new guidelines prohibit any indoor or outdoor gatherings for the next 28 days and also ban groups of more than five at museums, movie theaters, and at outdoor activities, like boating. The bars, beaches, parks, and trails will also remain closed.
While Ige didn’t provide any concrete timeline beyond noting that Oct. 1 would be the earliest date, tourism executives told Hawaii News Now that the reopening could be pushed back again to November or December.
Rachel Chang is travel and pop culture journalist who grew up in the California Bay Area and lives in New York City (well, Hoboken, NJ). She’s a solo travel advocate, dumpling addict, and reluctant runner — who managed to finish the NYC marathon twice. Follow her on Twitter at @RachelChang and Instagram at @RachelSChang.
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