At the end of June, Hawaii announced it would do away with its 14-day mandatory quarantine and officially reopen to tourism on August 1st.
But today, Governor David Ige announced that the date will be pushed back at least a month to September 1st.
While this may come as a shock to many on the mainland, it’s no surprise to locals living in the islands, as the debate has been swirling internally for a couple days (at least). Like most destinations, the problem has been finding a balance between public health and economic recovery.
Businesses are struggling without tourism (many have had to shut down, and the ones that remain are worried about an economic catastrophe), which has prompted many to call for the State’s full reopening – mainly, doing away with the mandatory 14-day quarantine.
At the same time, cases have been on the rise, as have concerns over how effectively the State would be able to test arriving passengers and ensure they are healthy.
Originally, Ige said the state would require visitors to present a negative COVID-19 test, taken within 72 hours of arrival, in order to avoid quarantine. But the reality is that test results are often not delivered in seventy two hours – it can take up to a week – and there’s still a chance that those with negative test results could catch the virus between the time they take the test and the time they arrive in Hawaii. The availability and price of tests are among other discussed issues.
At a legislative briefing today, Ige said that pushing back the reopening date and keeping the mandatory quarantine in place was the right thing to do until the State can work out the details of the testing program and ensure the safety of residents.
Now, the State will turn its attention to stomping out the recent rise in cases, while business owners will be left with the grim reality of a further-delayed opening. Arriving passengers – be they returning residents or visitors – will have to abide by the on-going 14-day mandatory quarantine for at least another month.
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