Hawaii Governor David Ige discouraged anyone from visiting Hawaii in a press conference on Monday.
“It is not a good time to travel to the islands,” the governor said. “We are seeing more COVID patients in our hospitals and ICUs are filling up.”
Limited availability of rental cars and social distancing restrictions prevent visitors from experiencing the typical Hawaiian vacation they might anticipate, the governor indicated. The state government currently prohibits indoor gatherings of more than 10 and outdoor gatherings of more than 25 people.
“I have asked that all non-essential travel for residents and visitors to Hawaii be delayed or curtailed through the end of October,” he told the Star Advertiser.
“I’ve been on calls with all the airlines and I’ve talked with the hotel industry to support this requirement. I think it’s important that we reduce the number of visitors coming here to the islands,” he said.
He added that Hawaii might create its own standalone phone app or a website to verify that visitors had received a vaccine.
As of June, 30,000 travelers were flying into Hawaii each day. This was an over 80% increase in the number of travelers that were flying in during the same time in 2019, according to The Guardian.
Hawaii has reported, on average, 650 new cases a day during August. Last month, the state averaged just 138 cases per day.
The state enforced rigid restrictions to keep infections low during the global pandemic, requiring visitors to quarantine for ten days upon arrival and mandating indoor face mask requirements. Last month, the state stopped requiring visitors to have a negative pre-travel test for coronavirus.
In response to the Governor’s statement, the Hawaii Tourism Authority noted visitor counts normally fall as summer vacation season ends but still encouraged travelers to delay any plans to visit Hawaii this fall.
Others felt the request was confusing because state rules still allow for travel to Hawaii.
“I’m not quite sure what I’m supposed to do. I’ve got thousands of people booked to come between now and 2022, and I’m certainly not going to contact them and say, ‘Don’t go,’” said Jack Richards, president and CEO of Pleasant Holidays.
“So far 62 percent of the state population has been fully vaccinated. [Ige] urged others to get vaccinated as soon as possible following the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s full authorization of [Pfizer and BioNTech]’s COVID-19 vaccine,” reports Reuters.
In Hawaii, the highest vaccination rate is among people aged 65-74 years. Just over 51% of kids aged 12-17 are vaccinated. Johns Hopkins University reports the state has the seventh-best vaccination rate in the United States.
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