Hawaii officials begin easing some COVID-19 restrictions

The coronavirus global pandemic has hit Hawaii’s largely tourism-based economy hard. We’re fortunate here to seemingly have been able to control the spread of the virus. We have some of the lowest confirmed cases, hospitalizations, and fatality rates in the US. We do, however, have the highest unemployment rate in the nation due to the huge numbers of workers in the all-but-shuttered tourism industry.

As many officials agree, Hawaii has “flattened the curve“. Hawaii residents, businesses, and potential visitors received some positive news on Tuesday May 5, as Governor Ige issued a new order that beginning May 7, shopping malls, retail, apparel and electronics and other businesses will be clear to resume operations (with certain limitations). Golf courses, florists, and other specific businesses were allowed to reopen last week.

The order includes car washes, pet grooming, elective medical procedures, Hawaii’s astrological observatories, nonprofit organizations, and wholesale operations. The University of Hawaii also announced that it will resume in-person classes and instruction with some modifications for the fall semester at all of its campuses.

Hawaii golf courses were among the first businesses to reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Governor Ige and Hawaii’s mayors hold their own near daily press briefings about measures being implemented and others being considered. The 14-day mandatory quarantine for Hawaii air arrivals remains in place (including interisland travel), although just how effectively the quarantine is being enforced remains in question as visitors continue to arrive, and in some cases ignore emergency measures in place.

The situation “on the ground” in Hawaii is fluid but coronavirus numbers are stable at this time and it looks like Hawaii tourism will start up again in some limited form in June. Hotels and resorts like the Hilton Hawaiian Village will reopen in June. Some hotels have remained open during the shutdown. Some operators of smaller hotels have even alerted authorities to visitors ignoring and flouting quarantine restrictions.

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Large scale tourism activities like luaus and large group tours are likely to stay shuttered as officials work on plans for further easing of shutdown measures. On Tuesday, Honolulu Mayor Kirk said that dine-in restaurants could resume service my late June (current shutdown orders are scheduled to remain in place until May 31).

Hawaii visitor arrivals have all but evaporated. At this time in 2019, Hawaii welcomed about 30,000 visitors per day. That number has dwindled to less than 100 at one point in March. On Monday, May 4, 246 visitors arrived in the Aloha State. And although tourism and related businesses employ a large percentage of Hawaii workers, many residents are astounded that tourists are still coming to Hawaii in spite of prohibitive travel and quarantine restrictions and the potential dangers of transmission they bring with them.

COVID-19

Most experts agree that tourism will be vital in restoring Hawaii’s economy. Plans for that are open-ended at this point, with leaders from all public and private sectors weighing in with questions and concerns. The pandemic has made clear that an over-reliance on tourism is not sustainable for Hawaii’s economy or its workers.

But it has also made clear how much a healthy approach to tourism in Hawaii can help get the economy back on its feet and making strides to the benefit of residents and visitors alike.

Hawaii Aloha Travel has experts “on the ground” who are following developments in Hawaii’s visitor industry closely. Through our vast network of contacts and sources in the industry, we can help you best plan for a “post-coronavirus pandemic” Hawaii vacation.

The situation is changing daily, and the impact of coronavirus in Hawaii will certainly reach far into the future of the Aloha State. But for now, things are looking up and we are always here to help at Hawaii Aloha Travel.