HONOLULU (KHON2) — Lieutenant Governor Josh Green says the governor will likely delay the reopening of tourism, which is currently scheduled for August 1. Although the governor has yet to make the announcement.
The county mayors have already expressed that it would be safer to do so. Some experts agree that Hawaii is not ready, but some economists say it’s time for everyone to take personal responsibility regarding COVID safety measures and let tourists return to the islands.
After marathon meetings with the mayors and health officials, Gov. David Ige will likely make the official announcement after the weekend. That’s according to the lieutenant governor, who says the August 1 date will be pushed back.
“The governor has to make this decision. The best approach is to delay so that we’re safer, so we can get control of the virus with a date certain. And then two weeks before that, give an update of where we are right now,” said Green.
A senior research fellow with the East-West Center agrees with pushing it back. He says the combination of rising COVID-19 cases here and on the mainland is a strong signal that August 1 is still too early to reopen tourism. He adds that to be ready, state officials need to send a stronger message to residents to take safety protocols more seriously.
“I think we need an actual public service announcement campaign of several million dollars, probably hiring professional firms to get this message across and to explain to people, look, your irresponsibility is the reason we can’t open the economy,” said Tim Brown of the East-West Center.
Brown says too many people are not wearing masks and not practicing physical distancing. And Hawaii can’t allow tourism until we can get the daily number of infections back down to single digits.
Brown is the co-author of the report by UHERO that predicted weeks ago that opening tourism with pre-testing protocols would prevent 80%-90% of infected passengers. At that point he estimated that Hawaii would get five infected passengers a day. At this point, he says we could get 15-20 cases a day.
“If you add say another 15-20 cases per day on top of our current burden of 26 cases a day for the last week and growing, then we’re in a very bad place,” said Brown.
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