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Hawaii News

More than 600 visitors arrived in Hawaii on Monday despite mandatory quarantine

More than 600 visitors were among the 2,600-plus passengers who flew into Hawaii on Monday despite the mandatory 14-day quarantine required for all who come in from out of state, according to the Hawaii Tourism Authority.

Among the 2,637 people who arrived, the majority, 839, were returning residents, while 616 were visitors and 365 were military.

Another 295 were flight crew, 228 exempt and 158 in transit, while 136 had plans to relocate to Hawaii.

The numbers this month, so far, have increased to a new average of 727 for the first six days of July compared with an average of 466 for the first six days of June, when numbers ranged between the 400s and 500s.

The bump occurred on the first day of July, when 754 visitors flew in, followed by 937 on Thursday, the highest for the month, just ahead of the Fourth of July weekend.

The majority of the visitors on Monday, 547, flew to Oahu, while 37 went to Maui and 32 to Kona.

Despite a jump in the first week of July, the number of visitors is still a huge drop compared with the approximately 35,000 passengers who used to arrive in Hawaii daily, including residents and visitors.

Visitor arrivals have plunged since Gov. David Ige on March 26 ordered all travelers to Hawaii — and in April, all interisland travelers — to undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine to help stop the spread of the new coronavirus.

While it appeared to help Hawaii achieve the lowest infection rate of any U.S. state, visitor arrivals have dropped nearly 100% in April and May, and the mandatory quarantine has crippled the state’s economy, which is heavily reliant on tourism, resulting in the closure of hotels and businesses tied to the visitor market.

For May, visitor arrivals to the Hawaiian Islands fell by a dramatic 98.9% compared with the same month last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and related shutdowns.

Some economists have warned of the dire consequences of extending the closure much longer.

The mandatory quarantine for interisland travelers was lifted June 16 as part of a phased approach to reopening the state’s economy. Out-of-state travel is expected to pick up next month under a new testing protocol, which would allow passengers with approved negative COVID-19 tests taken within 72 hours of their trip to Hawaii to bypass the quarantine.

On Monday, Ige said he planned to go forward with opening the state to trans-Pacific travelers on Aug. 1.

The majority of Oahu visitors Monday — 71.5%, or 391 out of 547— said the purpose of their trip was to visit friends and family. Fewer than 10% of passengers listed other reasons: 47 said they were on business, 28 planned to relocate to Hawaii, and 42 were on vacation. They could choose more than one purpose for their visit.

The HTA data is collected from the state Department of Transportation’s mandatory travel declaration form.

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