New program helps visitors go back home if they can’t quarantine for 14 days in Hawaii

Coronavirus

Hundreds of people continue to fly into the state despite the 14-day quarantine order. Visitors continue to travel to our state for various reasons, some officials say it may be because air fare to Hawaii is cheap.

While there are more returning residents, we’ve seen a rise in visitor numbers coming to Hawaii in the last 4 days. According to the Hawaii Tourism Authority:
On Friday, there were 94 visitors.
Saturday – 106.
That jumped again the next day to 126 visitors.
And on Monday, 133 visitors were reported.

“That’s still way too many given the fact that we have said this is not the time to visit Gawaii and we are closed for business,” said Mufi Hannemann of the Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association

Hannemann says hotels have standards put in place to protect workers. For example, quarantined guests would have to have food delivered to their hotel rooms.

“We are all playing by the same rules so if there’s an escape valve we don’t believe its happening with the hotels because on a daily basis we are checking in with them. When visitors arrive they have a reservation at a hotel, we calling that hotel in advance,” said Hannemann.

But not all visitors are staying in hotels, so Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell made it clear on Tuesday vacation rentals are not considered an essential business.

“That is not permitted. That is a nonessential business and they should not be allowed to go to a vacation rental whether it be legal or illegal,” said Caldwell.

The Visitor Aloha Society of Hawaii started a program on Monday for visitors who don’t have a place to quarantine.

“The purpose of the grant is to keep Hawaii safe. We want to return arriving passengers to their place of origin if they come here and if they don’t have any plans,” said Jessica Lani Rich of VASH. “On our first day of our program, we already sent home 2 people and the 2 people who went home were two homeless men from Los Angeles.”

Depending on the situation, VASH says the program helps visitors pay for flights, change fees, and possibly accommodations. But they try to keep them at the airport as much as possible.

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