A majority of Hawaii residents oppose reopening tourism amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to a report released this week.
“People are still scared. They’re willing to sacrifice personal finances for safety,” said Colin Moore, associate professor of political science and director of the University of Hawaii Public Policy Center.
According to the report titled “Life under Lockdown: Hawaii Resident Assessment of COVID-19 Restrictions,” some 81% of residents indicated “they do not want tourists coming to visit my community right now.”
The findings are based on a survey of 609 adult respondents statewide. The survey was administered by Ward Research between June 15 and June 22.
Moore, along with Sherilyn Hayashida, special assistant of the University of Hawaii Public Policy Center, and John M. Knox of John M. Knox & Associates Inc., authored the report to gain a sense of residents’ attitudes toward restrictions imposed by the government to curb the spread of the new coronavirus. The authors also sought the community’s perspective on reopening tourism.
Moore believes the number of residents against reopening tourism would be even higher today with the recent spike of confirmed coronavirus cases.
At 42, Saturday marked the highest surge of new cases since the start of the outbreak. As of Tuesday, state health officials reported a total of more than 1,250 cases since the outbreak began.
The report revealed about 54% of residents indicated they still do not feel safe going to places outside of their homes.
Moore said the assessment also showed 88% of residents agreed with COVID-19 restrictions such as the 14-day quarantine for out-of-state passengers.
About 62% of the respondents said restrictions should be reimposed if the number of confirmed coronavirus cases increases over a period of several weeks.
When asked what should be done differently should the government need to reinstate restrictions, 34% of respondents said the closures of shopping centers and businesses needs to be handled differently.
Some 25% of the respondents also said beaches should remain open. In the wake of the pandemic, beaches on Oahu were closed for months until mid-May.
The beach is just a sacred resource here, Moore said. For residents who live in small, cramped quarters, beaches provide a place of relaxation and some psychological relief, especially in today’s distressing times, he added.
The report also noted the financial impact on residents brought on by the pandemic with more than 30% of Hawaii households undergoing financial distress.
Approximately 37% of households had someone who had filed for unemployment insurance benefits, and 28% of residents worried about someone being laid off or fired soon.
There were 7% who indicated someone in the household permanently lost their job during the pandemic and 34% who said a household member had been temporarily laid off.
To access the “Life under Lockdown: Hawaii Resident Assessment of COVID-19 Restrictions” report, go to publicpolicycenter.manoa.hawaii.edu.