Vaccinations help Hawaii residents gain more confidence to return to normal routines, UHERO says

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HONOLULU (KHON2) — As vaccinations ramp up, experts say locals are gaining more confidence to return to normal routines.

At popular beaches and in malls last year, there weren’t too many people out and about.

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Experts say whenever there was a spike in COVID-19 cases, it made it even worse.

“An increase in cases would drive down economic activity, and then we’d see either job losses or we see a pause in a job gains,” said Carl Bonham, with UHERO.

However, he said all that has changed this year. They have new data showing more people are leaving their homes, willing to go out to places like restaurants.

Retailers are also seeing some of their highest foot traffic right now since the pandemic began.

“We’re at one of the more higher peaks since the pandemic started during the non holiday season,” said Tina Yamaki, Retail Merchants of Hawaii president.

“We’re behaving differently now, and people are more confident,” said Bonham.

So what’s causing the confidence? Bonham said along with vaccinations, people understand the virus more now and are less afraid of it.

“Now we have a very, we have a very clear understanding, particularly if you’re, you’re dining outside or you’re doing outdoor activities or you’re masking indoors,” said Bonham. “And you’re a little careful about social distancing that, you know it’s reasonably safe.”

Bonham said it is looking less likely that people will stay home if they see a spike in cases.

“Even if we saw a surge, like the winter surge, because more and more people are vaccinated. You may continue to see economic activity, hold up,” said Bonham.

“A lot of people, we’ve been shut in now for almost a year you know are being very cautious when we do go out and people want to go out, they want to socialize, but they want to do it as safely as well,” said Yamaki.

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