Can Hawaii open up to tourists without letting in the coronavirus?
Thanks to its geographic isolation, a stay-at-home order and a mandatory 14-day quarantine for all arrivals, Hawaii has had some of the lowest rates of Covid-19 in the US.
But the quarantine essentially halted tourism in Hawaii, which accounts for a quarter of the economy. As a result, nearly one-third of the state’s working population has applied for unemployment.
This week, Hawaii’s governor, David Ige, announced a phased approach to opening the non-tourism economy, or kamaʻaina (local) economy. The plan reopened auto dealerships, car washes and pet grooming services in May, while waiting until June to consider reopening higher-risk businesses, such as gyms, museums and theaters.
The governor also confirmed that the mandatory 14-day quarantine for all arrivals would stay in place through June. The finer details of how the tourism economy – bars, hotels, convention centers – will be reopened have yet to be released but one idea being discussed is waiving the quarantine for visitors if they take a Covid-19 test before traveling to Hawaii.
“The state needs to bring back tourism in some way. We need money,” said Colin Moore, the University of Hawaii public policy director. “But the only way to make that work is to find a way to do it as safely as we can.”
Nearly 240,000 people have signed up for unemployment since the beginning of March, according to Hawaii’s department of labor and industrial relations. The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, which opened in May for gig workers and self-employed individuals, has received 28,000 applications ...
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