Hawaii COVID-19 cases trending downward. Will tourism open October 1?

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Let’s look at the recent information regarding Hawaii virus rates and what experts are saying regarding tourism reopening.

Declining Hawaii COVID-19 Cases

After Hawaii’s August surge in COVID-19 cases, which prompted a response by the U.S. Surgeon General and a second stay-at-home order, the virus load is trending downwards. The positivity rate is also trending below 5%. More importantly, the state’s healthcare system, which was being stretched in part due to a staffing shortage, is in a better position with fewer COVID-19 hospitalizations.

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Through September 8, 2020, Hawaii has tallied 10,025 cases, which represents 0.7% of the state’s population. Only approximately 31% of those cases are considered to be recovered.

Oahu has experienced that vast majority of cases. The island’s mayor extended stay-at-home orders for another two weeks through September 23, 2020.

Will the state open tourism with the pre-travel testing program October 1st?

Perhaps Hawaii’s most vocal person throughout this pandemic is Lt. Gov. Josh Green. In an editorial column for the Honolulu Star Advertiser, he outlines his ideas for defeating COVID-19 and the economic impact. He indicates that Hawaii can reopen tourism October 1st with the pre-travel testing program. In another article at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, he indicates that the pre-arrivals testing plan is ready to go once Gov. Ige approves it. To date, very few details of the pre-travel testing program have been released.

In an article today from The Maui News, Gov. Ige indicates the pre-travel testing program is still on the table, though no timeline was indicated. Here’s that excerpt from The Maui News.

Ige said Tuesday that his administration is still moving toward the launch of its trans-Pacific pretravel testing program. He said they’ve been working on contracts with private partners such as CVS and other pharmacies who could conduct the tests out of state within three days of travelers’ departure. They’ve also been working to update the digital platform for the pretravel testing program.

“All of the activities that we need to have in place to enable pretravel testing are moving ahead full steam, because we do know that bringing back our visitors from around the Pacific is fundamentally important to restarting and encouraging our economy.”

Though there appears to be some possible optimism from the governor and  lieutenant governor that the pre-travel testing program can begin October 1st, Hawaii hotels announced more pending layoffs and furlough notices last week. That appears to be lost faith in the reopening plans. Sadly, there’s a long list of employers, mostly hospitality-related, who’ve announced Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notifications (WARN).

Even when the state does open tourism, the number of visitors is expected to be a fraction of what it used to be. Prior to the pandemic 30,000 to 35,000 people arrived in the state each day. Per the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, Mufi Hannemann, president and CEO of the Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association, says he’d be happy if they hit 5,000 a day at the start of reopening. Lt. Gov. Green thinks arrivals could be in the 6,000 to 8,000 per day range.

Officials say that hotels need four to six-weeks notice to reopen. We’re just about three weeks away from October 1st and the pre-arrivals testing plan appears to be in limbo. If everything that’s been stated by industry experts holds true, a October 1st start seems unlikely.

As more details emerge, we will publish them. If you are not already subscribed to our free email newsletter, you can sign up for it at this link.

7 comments
    1. So, it sounds like they’re not confident that the pre-travel testing program will begin October 1. Are you going to reschedule?

  1. We’re coming October 1. No holding us back now. We know we won’t be able to do all that we usually do on Oahu, but we just need a vacation and some sun. We’ve been living in smoke for the last two weeks in the Pacific Northwest. So we can’t wait to get to Waikiki! Great deal on a private condo through AirBnb. Just can’t wait to get in the crystal blue water. We’re sad that Hanauma Bay likely won’t be open. We just want to hike Diamond Head, go watch surfers at North Shore, swim anywhere, and get our snorkels in the water.

    1. We hope the governor will announce whether or not the pre-travel testing program will begin October 1. If it does not, travelers will still be required to quarantine in their place of lodging for 14 days. The quarantine does not allow people to venture outside of their individual room/condo/home.

  2. What the hell, Mary. Why would you leave a comment like this? Are you that ridiculous that you can’t see this is exactly why local Hawaiians don’t want us there? It’s rude tourists like you who are putting them at risk. They have a quarantine set in place for a very good reason and you think it’s OK to just break the rules because you need some time in the surf and sun? Stay home. And if you think you’re the only one that needs a vacation right now, that’s gross. Everybody in the world is struggling with this and the last thing Hawaii needs are a bunch of arrogant mainlanders traveling through international airports and bringing all sorts of crap that could cause them serious problems. And those problems extend far beyond the symptoms one might get from Covid. I live in Northern California and I have family that lost homes in the fires this last week, and my vacation to Hawaii is planned for October 6 for my HONEYMOON (after a wedding that was pretty much taken from me), so believe me I get needing a vacation. But if Hawaii decides they need more time, I will give it to them, because that’s what decent people do. And if you do end up going, and you break the rules, they will throw your a** in jail. You should look up the rate of folks who have been arrested and fined for breaking the quarantine. In Oahu, it’s startling. Trust me, you don’t want to mess with the locals over there, and if north shore surfers see you at the beach, without a mask and acting the way you sound…good luck. You’ll need it.

    1. Wow Michelle, you don’t have to be so RUDE. You are the arrogant one. and btw, most island businesses and their employees are *desperate* to have visitors again in order to feed their families and keep their businesses. The Hawaii governor needs to open up the state while she still has a state to open up.

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