County leaders urge state to delay Aug. 1 tourism opening date

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) — With just over three weeks before opening the state to tourism, there are more calls from county officials to push it back. This comes as the governor is meeting with the mayors on how to proceed.

Even before the meeting, Big Island Mayor Harry Kim made it clear how he feels. During an interview on Wake Up 2day, he said we need to re-evaluate current measures now before moving forward.

“I realize this is the first time I’m saying this publicly, but communication was written by me yesterday saying that I think that the state of Hawaii should put a real pause, using that word, on where we’re going,” said Kim.

He raised concerns about the surge in coronavirus cases in more than half the states in the country, which could lead to more cases here when tourism opens in August.

The Honolulu City Council raised the same concerns and just passed a resolution urging the state to have a better testing protocol that would allow travelers to bypass the 14-day quarantine. It’s also calling on the state to hold off on the August 1 date due to the number of COVID cases here and on the mainland.

The chief resilience officer for Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell supports the measure saying, “We cannot afford to give up the hard-fought gains that responsible residents and island business have won by adhering to the new COVID safety standards.”

Kim points out that this is a good time to err on the side of caution.

“Cause we are still in a good position and I’m proposing we review all of our policies before we go forward cause I think some of it, for me anyway, is not acceptable,” said Kim.

To help open tourism, the state legislature has already approved $90 million for Hawaii airports to improve safety measures. A key lawmaker says the governor has the flexibility to spend more if it’s needed.

“There’s about 30 some odd million left that’s under the governor’s discretion, so that he would be able to provide monies to some of the different departments if they need to ramp up,” said Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz, chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee.

He says the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency also has $100 million for Personal Protective Equipment.

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