comscore 2 new Oahu coronavirus cases, 509 out-of-state new visitor arrivals to Hawaii | Honolulu Star-Advertiser
Hawaii News

2 new Oahu coronavirus cases, 509 out-of-state new visitor arrivals to Hawaii

Out-of-state visitor arrivals to Hawaii rose to 509 Saturday, the sixth day in a row that incoming arrivals topped 400.

The Hawaii Tourism Authority reported Sunday that 1,656 passengers arrived in Hawaii on Saturday.

Also Sunday, the state Department of Health reported two new Oahu coronavirus cases. Sunday’s cases followed two consecutive days of nine cases each. Those cases were mostly on Oahu and included three cases of employees of assisted-living facilities.

The new COVID-19 tally brings the statewide total to 675 cases and 17 deaths since Feb. 28. So far, 617 Hawaii patients have been released from isolation. There are only 41 active coronavirus cases in Hawaii, with no instances of active cases on Kauai and Hawaii island.

Visitor arrivals may be increasing but are still tiny compared with pre-coronavirus pandemic levels when an average of 30,000 passengers a day flew into Hawaii. Most travelers are required to spend 14 days in self- quarantine when arriving in Hawaii.

The passengers who arrived Saturday included 432 residents and 133 people who intended to relocate to Hawaii. The 20 flights that came into Hawaii on Saturday also included 157 airline crew members, 140 transit passengers who did not intend to leave the airport and 220 military members. As many as 65 of the incoming passengers were exempted from the quarantine order.

Some 75% of the Oahu visitors, who filled out a state DOT travel form, said they were coming to Hawaii to visit with friends and family. About 12% of respondents said they were coming for vacation, while 5% said they came for business and about 2% said they were coming to Hawaii to relocate. The percentages don’t total 100% because 35 people chose not to answer questions about the purpose of their visit. Also, respondents could choose more than one answer.

Visitor counts plummeted after March 26 when the state instituted a mandatory 14-day self-quarantine for passengers and expanded it to interisland flights April 1. Only 4,564 visitors traveled to Hawaii in April, according to HTA preliminary statistics. That’s a 99.5% drop compared with April 2019 when 856,250 visitors came by air and cruise ship.

However, counts started rising again Monday after Gov. David Ige announced that he would lift the interisland passenger quarantine June 16.

Ige said last week that he planned to make an announcement this week that would include a future reopening date for broader tourism; however, he’s expected to extend the trans-Pacific quarantine beyond the current June 30 expiration.

Opinions, even from the highest government levels, vary on whether new safety protocols and proper hygiene practices are enough to reopen Hawaii tourism safely or whether some combination of testing, contact tracing, thermal screening and tourism lockdowns must be included to head off the possibility that there will be a second wave of infections.

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