HONOLULU(KHON2)–While some people are practicing social distancing and heeding the warnings surrounding COVID-19, others are ignoring them.
On Wednesday, Waikiki Beach was completely packed with people who were obviously closer together than six feet.
What is the state and the tourism industry doing to ensure more visitors aren’t spreading the virus?
Honolulu, Kauai and Maui counties are closing parks and other public areas. They are also asking restaurants and bars to only offer take out service if they choose to remain open.
The Hawaii Tourism Authority tells us it has stopped advertising. In a statement, HTA president Chris Tatum said:
“We have placed our marketing efforts on pause while we evaluate the situation as it evolves.”
Hawaiian airlines is suspending flights from Sapporo Japan, and cutting back other routes due to decreased demand.
Other airlines have also reduced flights.
But is it enough when it’s clear that some businesses and travelers aren’t listening?
Molokai is one of the few islands that does not have any positive cases of COVID-19. Residents want to keep it that way.
Roughly thirty residents gathered in front of Ho’olehua Airport holding picket signs, telling visitors to go home.
“We’re here today to exercise our right and our voices to ask tourists and people who are not from here to please stay home,” Molokai resident Zhantell Lindo said.
“We’re telling the airline industry we do not want anymore tourists coming to Molokai because tourism at this time is a threat to the health of our island,” Molokai resident Walter Ritte said.
Is shutting down Waikiki like Nevada did with the Vegas Strip something we could see here?
In a statement Governor David Ige said:
“We appreciate the agreement by our healthcare community that we need to be aggressive in our efforts to control the spread of COVID-19. We’re implementing the directives announced yesterday and are also continuously looking at additional measures that need to be taken. We can expect more stringent measures to be introduced. And we want to assure everyone that any direction or mandates made will be based on facts and what’s best for our communities.”
According to Chapter 127A covering Emergency Management, the governor does have the authority to shut down Waikiki and other areas of Hawaii, making it mandatory for people to stay home and not travel.
That has not happened yet. If it does come to that point, there could be other consequences.