Interesting similarities exist between the physically isolated and tourism-dependent Florida Keys and Hawaii. This comes to mind today, as we learned that the Keys will reopen to tourists on June 1 via air and car, but with a myriad of new restrictions in place.
While not completely analogous, Hawaii may well observe what happens there and how successful it is, as it plans for its own tourism reopening. The first time that Hawaii could re-open to tourism is July 1, but a date certain and on what basis, have not yet been announced. The lockdowns, both here in Hawaii, and in the Keys, have kept visitors out, and the number of cases low.
One major difference between Hawaii and the Keys, of course, is that you can fly or drive to the Keys, whereas a 5+ hour flight is required to visit Hawaii. The population sizes are different too.
Hawaii and the Florida Keys have both done well.
The Keys has had a very low incidence rate, similar to Hawaii. Florida’s Health Department spokesperson said “Should the Florida Keys experience an increase in cases… restrictions may be heightened and amenities may again be closed. It’s time to start moving forward… The checkpoint has done what it’s needed to do.”
The Keys has been closed since March 22, whereas Hawaii has been “essentially closed” since March 26. Checkpoints were put in place to keep non-residents out of the Keys. Hotels were ordered shuttered, and visitors by air were screened and ordered to self-isolate for 14 days. Here in Hawaii, a 14-day mandatory isolation period under penalty of the law was put in place for all arrivals.
New Keys’ rules and limits set.
Starting June 1, screenings on arrival, will cease. Keys’ residents are being urged to continue to follow best practices including sanitization, distancing, limiting groups to 10 or less, and wearing face masks.
When the Keys re-open, it will do so with a 50% capacity limit on lodging establishments, restaurants, and gyms. Bars will not be re-opening at that time. Vacation rentals will be exempt from the 50% rule. All accommodations will be mandated to implement sanitation procedures per the guidelines set forth by the American Hotel and Lodging Association, and will have to submit a sanitation plan to the state.
Will following what happens in the Florida Keys give Hawaii some of the answers needed to move forward?