Gov. Ige: Surge in COVID cases likely means another delay in reopening tourism

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) — The surge in daily COVID cases and hospitalizations makes it more likely that reopening tourism will not happen on September 1. The governor says he hasn’t made a decision, but the state is clearly going in the wrong direction.

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Part of the problem is travelers not being able to get tested and the results within three days before they leave. The governor says with so many cases still on the mainland, the solution is difficult.

Reopening tourism would also require more hospital beds available here because the move would lead to more cases. And right now, the governor admits it just doesn’t look good.

“Based on the data we see today, yes, it would make sense for us to look at deferring. I just want to be monitoring and tracking the data. Obviously in the last ten days, the number of cases are going in the wrong direction,” said Gov. David Ige.

He says he will announce his decision within a week. He adds that setting up a travel bubble with Japan is still on the table. But with increasing cases there, similar obstacles are in the way.

“They have challenges in getting the number of tests as well. So we’re working with them, we are focused at moving as quickly as we can,” said the governor.

Ige says he’s still pushing for that to happen before the end of the year. There is some good news in being able to catch people who violate the mandatory 14-day quarantine. The state started testing a digital platform that can contact people by text messages and determine if they’re complying.

“The new digital platform will allow us to automatically ping the telephones and check up on individuals and make sure that they are on their quarantine locations,” he said.

Ige says the state should be able to roll it out by the end of the week. He adds that if cases don’t start coming back down by next week, more restrictions might be needed. Possibly limiting gatherings to even fewer than 10 people. He says he would avoid a lockdown and instead focus on where clusters are forming.

“I do believe that the strategic focus on enforcement, as we’ve looked at bars that are violating the mayor’s orders, looking at restaurants,” said Ige.

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