Governor Ige held a press conference of great importance to visitors yesterday. The governor is asking that visitors and Hawaii residents consider changing their travel plans from now through October. This comes as the City and County of Honolulu has ordered canceling of all events of over 10 persons indoors or 25 persons outdoors effective Wednesday, except religious services.
Ige said, These actions will take time to make an impact on the Covid cases we are seeing. It will take 6 to 7 weeks to see significant change. So I ask everyone to do your part… Another shutdown is really the last resort.”
Ige: It is a risky time to travel right now.
He asked that visitors and residents reduce travel to “essential business activities only. It is not a good time to travel to the islands. There is limited access to rental cars (and to restaurants).”
We know that the visitors who choose to come to the islands will not have the typical kind of holiday they expect when they come to Hawaii.”
Lastly, while Ige said it will take 6 to 7 weeks to see a change, he also said in the press conference that “if we can take these actions for the next four weeks we will bend the curve of covid in Hawaii.”
The governor said he is consulting with all of the majors “We are all concerned with the surging cases. I will be looking at further restrictions on Maui”
He said lastly, “curtail travel to Hawaii. It is not a good time to travel to the islands.”
Requests but no further mandates at this time.
The governor is choosing at this time to not mandate further actions. He said he could move in that direction should it be necessary. That might include vaccination mandates for restaurants for example. He said that this situation is different than when Hawaii first implemented a mandated shutdown last year. One of the big differences he said is that the CDC has indicated that travel is safe for those fully vaccinated. In addition, as we indicated before, there is some question about the legality of further travel restrictions.
What about Big Island’s request to test all arrivals?
The governor said he is still reviewing that request from last week. If approved, and deemed enforceable, that would mandate tests for all arrivals, both vaccinated and not vaccinated.
BOH: There still has been no update from the state on this request.
Cooperation within the visitor industry.
He said he expects to see “cooperation from the visitor industry,” but did not provide any specifics. It is not clear what means are available to Hawaii, given Lt. Gov. Green said earlier today that he does not believe pre-travel testing across the board would be viable legally. That even though the Attorney General’s office appeared to disagree in that regard.
Ige is asking all partners to advise customers that it isn’t a good time to visit. He asked the HTA to help inform those in the industry and he expects them to “help in the way that they can to curtail travel to the islands.”
Ige earlier today reiterated that the majority of new cases are resulting from residents traveling to the mainland the returning to spread Covid within their communities. He said, “I’m asking all residents and visitors alike to restrict travel, curtail travel, to Hawaii to essential activities only.” Ige and other officials have reiterated as recently as today that the percentage of cases associated with visitors’ travel is less than 2%. “The number of cases due to visitors remains low.”
What is the airline industry’s response?
Ige said, “I am fully aware the airlines continue to struggle. There was a general understanding of what the healthcare conditions are in our islands. They did express support for helping in the ways that they can to deliver the message that it is not a good time to visit the islands. He said he is legally prohibited from discussing schedules, flights, or pricing with the airlines.
More news on this to follow.
Regarding lockdowns, no specifics but yes, it’s on the table if numbers don’t improve. What that could mean, isn’t even entirely clear.