By Alfred Acenas
EBC Hawaii Bureau
HONOLULU, Hawaii (Eagle News) – Beginning Thursday, March 26, all travelers bound for Hawaii, whether by air or sea, whether visitor or returning resident, will undergo a mandatory 14-day self-quarantine.
Hawaii Governor David Ige made the announcement during a press conference at the State Capitol Building Rotunda in downtown Honolulu on Saturday, March 21.
“This mandate is the first of its kind in the nation. We want this action to send the message to visitors and residents alike that we appreciate their love for Hawaii, but we are asking them to postpone their visit,” Governor Ige stressed.
Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell, Director of the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency (HIEMA) US Army Major General Kenneth Hara, Hawaiian Airlines President Peter Ingram, and President of the Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association (HLTA) Mufi Hannemann were also present at the press briefing.
On Tuesday, March 17, the governor encouraged visitors to postpone their travel to Hawaii for 30 days, pursuant of slowing the spread of the virus in the islands.
“With the majority of Hawaii’s COVID19 cases linked to travel, it is critical that we further mitigate the spread of the virus by both residents and visitors who are coming from out-of-state,” he said.
Ige acknowledged the economic impact of this action, but said that this was for the health and safety of everyone in the Aloha State.
He said that the plan was “was developed in collaboration with our county mayors and Hawaii’s business, community and visitor industry leaders.”
-Guidelines for 14-day quarantine –
During the question-and-answer session with the media, Governor Ige explained that the self-quarantine being implemented at a later date instead of sooner was to give all travelers, airlines, hotels, law enforcement, and other stakeholders ample time to adjust their plans and procedures.
Guidelines for the 14-day mandatory self-quarantine included the following:
1. Travelers will be required to remain inside their rooms at their respective hotels while residents will remain in their homes for the required duration. If visitors plan to stay less than 14 days, they will stay quarantined that whole time until their departure.
2. Travelers will be responsible for any cost associated with the quarantine.
3. The mandate will not apply to emergency responders and other essential workers, including those who are responding to the COVID19 pandemic. It will also not apply to flight crews.
4. The rule will not apply to any of the visitors already in Hawaii.
When asked why a border closure for the entire State was not chosen, Governor Ige indicated the self-quarantine option as sufficient in preventing the further spread of the virus.
According to Mayor Caldwell, the self-quarantine rule will be enforced in all four counties; violations thereof will be treated as misdemeanors and subject to fines of up to $5,000 and/or one year in prison.
Meanwhile, the beach resort at Ko Olina in West Oahu, together with its hotels such as Disney’s Aulani Resort & Spa and the Four Seasons, will close on Tuesday, 24 March. Hale Koa Hotel in Waikiki announced its closure earlier in the week.
According to the Hawaii Department of Health’s (DOH) dedicated website hawaiicovid19.com, there are 56 confirmed cases as of March 22, up from 48 in the previous day. There are currently 41 cases in Honolulu, 3 in Kauai, 9 in Maui, and 3 in Big Island.
Among those whoe tested positive is a US Army Soldier assigned to the 25th Infantry Division headquartered at Schofield Barracks in Central Oahu. The soldier traveled to Las Vegas between March 13 to 15 and was tested positive on March 20.
Eagle News Service