Starting tomorrow, the state will start placing everyone arriving at the airports under quarantine. Returning residents will have to stay home, while visitors will be forced to remain in their hotel room for two weeks.
The Hawaii Tourism Authority says 4,131 people flew in to Hawaii Tuesday, most of them are residents. And while that is a considerable drop from the more than 34,000 on the same day last year, that is still a lot of people who can potentially spread the virus here. The state’s main message for Hawaii residents still thinking about travelling is don’t do it.
“People just have to be respectful of their family, friends, and neighbors and put it off, put off the travel cause even though when you come back you’re going into quarantine, you’re actually putting your own health at risk,” said Dr. James Ireland, medical director for the Hawaii Department of Transportation.
And also putting their families at risk. Dr. Ireland says it’s hard to predict how many more will be coming in with the quarantine rules in effect. For visitors, they will need to make sure they can provide for themselves.
“They’re gonna need their toiletries and medicines and be able to order food for delivery and their accommodations are gonna need to be set up because they need to remain in place,” he said.
Dr. Ireland points out that the quarantine rules are essential to try and slow down the spread of COVID-19.
“Clearly there’s a travel link and shutting down the travel for now not forever is going to help blunt the curve, sort of speak, decrease the spike in cases, make the scenario in Hawaii more like Korea rather than Italy,” he said.
HTA says more than 40 hotels statewide have stopped operating and that number is expected to go up in the days ahead. State officials told lawmakers that some of those hotel rooms could wind up being converted into hospital rooms.
“They can turn the room into a negative pressure room. But that’s just retrofitting the building. We would still need to provide everything that goes inside the building, all the beds, equipment, respirators, ventilators,” said Maj. Gen. Kenneth Hara, director of the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency.