If you were hoping to travel to Hawaii in July, think again. Hawaii Governor David Ige extended quarantine orders beyond June yesterday during a televised, virtual panel discussion with county majors.
Earlier this week, I reported that Hawaii would reopen to tourism in July. Unfortunately, though, that no longer appears to be the case.
Quarantine Orders Extended
According to Hawaii News Now, Governor Ige says that the mandatory 14-day quarantine for anyone arriving in Hawaii will be extended beyond June 30. He doesn’t, however, give an estimated timeframe. Based on his past actions, though, it’s largely believed that the extension will be for another month. Which, of course, pushes the potential opening date into August.
Is there a possibility that Hawaii could reopen to visitors in mid-July? Of course. But, I wouldn’t hold your breath. Especially if no plan is formulated any time soon.
We Need a Plan
The reopening of the local economy for residents is happening at an ever-increasing rate. Heck, salons and beauty services, outdoor attractions like Sea Life Park and Kualoa Ranch, and outdoor gatherings of 10 or less got the green light this week here on Oahu. Restaurants can begin offering dine-in service again about a week later on June 5. But, many of these changes came with little warning. And, that’s not an option for the visitor industry.
The Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association CEO, former Mayor Mufi Hannemann, says “we need a date.” After all, Hawaii’s massive hotels need time to bring employees back onboard, retrain them, and physically prep properties for the return of guests. It’s a process that, by some estimates, may take as long as a month. This is why having a reopening date, even a tentative one, is important.
Some business leaders and Lieutenant Governor Josh Green are pitching the idea of what they call “bubble tourism.”
Under this plan, an agreement between Japan and Hawaii would likely allow incoming visitors from Japan, who have met certain safety thresholds, to bypass Hawaii’s mandatory 14-day self-quarantine for trans-Pacific passengers. This would effectively make Japan a test subject for what tourism to Hawaii will look like until we have a cure/vaccine for COVID-19.
Those involved with the proposal say discussions can begin next week with a goal of implementing the plan by July 1.
If We Open, Will They Come?
According to a study by the University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization, it’ll take about two years for the US economy to recover from the pandemic. And, as a result, we’ll see depressed tourism numbers for at least the next two to three years. And, as mentioned earlier this week, a full recovery to 2019 levels likely won’t happen for five to six years. As a result, even if we were to reopen today, it’s largely expected that unemployment will stay as high as 9% through the beginning of next year. What’s more, hotel occupancy rates are expected to go only as high as 63% during 2022.
Hawaii Quarantine Orders Extended Beyond June, Final Thoughts
You all know that I’m in favor of taking a cautious approach to reopening. There’s a ton at risk if we mess up, both health-wise and economically. But, to have no plan, even a tentative one, at this stage is ludicrous. I mean, the Governor can’t even give us a tentative timeline on when restrictions on inter-island travel will be lifted. All we know is that it will happen “soon.”
That said, it’s important to remember that Hawaii’s hotel works don’t want to return to work and welcome back visitors until they feel safe. And, right now, they don’t feel safe yet.
It is ridiculous that they don’t feel safe given that the rest of American beaches in Florida and Texas etc have been open and crowded for a month now without any major issues.
It is also ridiculous for Hawaii to act like it’s own country making agreements with Japan. Maybe they should just secede if this is how they will act in a time of crisis. This pandemic has shown that Hawaii is full of xenophobes who never really accepted mainlanders as being fellow citizens and all the talk about aloha smiles is just fake.
Island Miler says
It’s important to remember that the single largest source of visitors for Hawaii is California. And, as a whole, California continues to see a rising rate of infection. And, while I understand the intent with the whole Japan travel bubble thing, it does seem odd to me. Let’s be clear, though. There is some reverse racism here, but it’s a minority of people. My opinion is that the fear of the virus is much greater here thanks to our denser living situation. Often, you’ll find households containing three generations in them since most of us simply cannot afford to purchase (or even rent) a place of our own.
Not only that, but there has always, always been a concern of bringing disease vectors to the Islands, which have killed off thousands of indigenous species. So there’s that mindset and concern as well. Keep Hawaii well. Keep Hawaii alive.
Island Miler says
This is very true. Recently, I read a column in the Star-Advertiser talking about the 1918 flu in Hawaii. It got here later than the rest of the US, but arrive it did, and it killed quite a few people. Especially in the plantations thanks to their work environment.
Duke Kahanamoku apparently got the flu. And, he, of course, survived. However, the story says he wanted to be an aviator in the US Army Air Force. But, his bout of flu left lasting lung damage that barred him from enlisting.
Is there an “inadvertant” incentive for hotel workers in Hawaii to not go back to work because of unemployment pay with the Covid bump?
Let’s put the moral high ground aside just for the moment to explore this possibility (of course nobody would do this, long term not sustainable, etc. etc.)
HOWEVER, if I live paycheck to paycheck and with the extra $600 in unemployment there is a reasonable chance my take home would be close to the same wether I went to work or stayed home and collected unemployment.
Island Miler says
I don’t think this is the case for many hotel workers that make over $20/hour. But, for others, I know that is one of the reasons they feel the way they do too.
I think that extra $600 is temporary and will expire soon.
Jason Say says
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, our lame duck governor has NO plan and is ruining the lives of the people he took an oath to serve. We’re 3rd from the bottom of infections (in the states) yet we still can’t even travel WITHIN OUR OWN STATE!!! How is this even legal? Heck, I can’t even travel to Hana here in Maui right now, once again, how is this legal?
We in Hawaii took their advice, stayed in, we killed our curve and have had several days in the past week with 0 new infections in the state……..yet we’re told to stay in fear and stay home. Oh, and stay unemployed and worry about how you’ll feed your kids and pay your mortgage once the UE runs out which is set to happen very soon. The smirk on Ige’s face makes me sick every time I see it. He looks like he’s enjoying the power of ruling over the people living Hawaii with his restrictions.
Earl Lee says
This is CRAZY! Just doesn’t make any sense at all. Hawaii is going to suffer due to this.
Kathy Ramos says
My ohana had a trip home planned since last year to take our dad’s ashes home to be scattered. Now we are waiting to see if Ige extends the quarantine pass June 30th. We all have been taking the proper “stay-at-Home” precautions and those of us who are essential workers practice the required guidelines. I also need to check on my 88 year old mom in Honlulu. This is crazy!!! Give us guidelines to follow – something!!! But a 14-day quarantine is nuts!!! I am also concern what this is going to do with Hawaii economy! I know what it takes to live in paradise. I live there for 53 years (born & raised). Please let us former residents go home and check on our ohana. We know how to respect the aina!
Island Miler says
You’d think they’d have a way to provide care in situations such as yours. But… It doesn’t seem like it. All I can say is, while Hawaii has changed a lot over the years, we also don’t change in many ways too.