Hawaii Gov. David Ige urges tourists to avoid the popular destination during October because of a spike in COVID patients that has strained the state's hospitals.
He said Monday at a news conference, "It's not the best time to travel to islands,"
The announcement on Monday does not mean that travelers can't visit Hawaii. Hawaii has not increased its entry requirements. To bypass strict quarantine, travelers can now travel to Hawaii by showing a negative COVID result. The requirement to be vaccinated for travelers visiting the United States was eliminated in July.
There was speculation that the testing requirement might be reintroduced due to an increase in COVID cases with the delta variant. However, Ige stated that it is not possible since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states domestic travel is safe for those who have been vaccinated.
Ige stated that he had spoken with hotels, airlines and other tourism businesses to spread the message that Hawaii is not the right time to visit unless it is essential. He stated that he had asked them to do "what they could" to reduce tourism.
In a separate interview with the Honolulu Star-Advertiser Monday, he stated that reducing the number of tourists visiting the islands was important. "I expect cooperation from visitors.
When Alex DaSilva, spokesperson for Hawaiian Airlines, was asked about the governor's request that visitors be limited, he released a statement late on Monday.
Sunset views at the Hyatt Regency Maui are free of charge
He said, "We are acutely conscious of the stress on health care system imposed new COVID-19 instances, and our hearts go out for those affected." We believe that increasing vaccination rates in our community is the best way to tackle this crisis. That is why we announced our intention to mandate that all employees be vaccinated.
DaSilva said: "The Safe Travels Program, which is unheard of in the country, requires that travelers be vaccinated to avoid quarantine. It has also been successful in managing the increase in travel-related deaths."
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Ige acknowledged that small tourism businesses are still recovering from the pandemic, and that telling tourists to stay home won’t help the industry rebound. Hawaii effectively banned traditional vacations in 2020, requiring a strict 14 day quarantine. This sent visitor numbers plummeting. However, visitation is now back on the rise.
Ige stated during the news conference that Hawaii is not a good place to travel right now due to persistent travel issues this summer. These include a shortage of rental cars and difficult-to-get restaurant reservations.
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This article first appeared on USA TODAY. Hawaii Governor urges tourists to return home because of the COVID surge