Hawaiian Governor David Ige urged tourists to voluntarily stay away from the islands as local COVID-19 cases surge.
In a press conference on Aug. 23, Ige warned tourists, as well as residents, that it was “a risky time to be traveling right now” and called on a delay to all non-essential travel through the end of October.
“I encourage everyone to restrict and curtail travel to Hawaii. It’s not a good time to travel to the islands,” Ige said, noting that hospitals are reaching capacity and that intensive care units are filling up.
Ige added that it will take six to seven weeks to reduce the number of COVID-19 cases in Hawaii.
However, Ige stopped short of banning tourists from traveling to the islands, arguing that the current situation was different from last year when strict travel restrictions essentially shut down Hawaii’s tourism industry.
Still, Ige said that tourists should not expect a “typical kind of holiday” if they choose to come as the state begins enforcing strict COVID-19 measures, including limited access to restaurants and rental cars.
Ige’s announcement came on the same day as Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi announced the suspension of all large gatherings for four weeks in the county.
The suspension will take effect on Aug. 25 through Sept. 22.
Hawaii’s Department of Health Director Elizabeth Char said in a statement that the spike of COVID-19 cases were mainly due to community spread.
“If things do not change, our health care systems will be crippled and those needing medical care for all types of diseases, injuries, and conditions, including our visitors, may find it difficult to get the treatment they need right away,” Char warned.
Hawaii recorded 565 new cases on Aug. 23, bringing the statewide tally to 57,235.
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