Gov. David Ige today took the extraordinary step of asking all Hawaii visitors to postpone their trips for the next 30 days and reschedule “for another date.”
Ige had no cost of the economic impact on an island economy that relies on tourism.
“We do know there will be significant impact,” he said.
But Ige emphasized that his call to postpone island visits is essential to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.
“We’re suggesting all activities shut down for the next 15 days,” he said.
In addition, Ige announced that:
>> Disembarking cruise ship passengers will be thermal scanned for possible signs of coronavirus infections starting Friday.
>> All non-essential state workers should stay home, work from home or perform other duties they’re qualified for.
>> All non-essential state travel will be banned, including neighbor island trips but excluding state Department of Education travel. Everyone who travels for the state must comply with a 14-day self quarantine, Ige said.
>> His administration is also working to: halt evictions and foreclosures for non-payment from people out of work; Working with utilities to ensure that services are not shut off “during these critical times, such as electrical, gas, water, internet, land lines and cell phone services.”
Ige said “all bars and clubs should be closed.” But he applauded restaurants for adjusting to drive through service, pick-ups and deliveries.
“Theaters and entertainment centers and visitor attractions,” also should close, Ige said.
Four new cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in Hawaii, including the first on the Big Island, state health officials said this afternoon.
State Epidemiologist Sarah Park said the Big Island case is a traveler from the mainland, two others on Oahu are residents who have traveled to Japan and the Philippines.
A fourth case is on Maui, however health officials are still gathering information.
All four are adults, but no further details were released.
The new cases bring the state’s total to 14.
“We’re starting to see the disease more often occur in Hawaii. You all know this virus is spreading rapidly through most of the U.S.,” said state Health Director Bruce Anderson in a conference call with reporters. “In many areas (on the mainland) we have community spread, when that happens you’re going to see a dramatic increase in the number of cases and we expect that to happen in here.”
On Monday, health officials announced Hawaii’s first confirmed case of community spread — a Kualoa Ranch tour guide.
The Kualoa Ranch case was “very likely” because the employee came in close contact with an infected tourist, Anderson said today.
Of the ranch employee’s 25 family and contacts who had been screened by health officials, three are being tested for COVID-19 while the rest are being quarantined at home.
”The general recommendation would be to avoid groups and gatherings, and that would be tour groups, where people come in contact with each other,” Anderson said.