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Kauai gets OK to use ‘resort bubbles’ for limited reopening of tourism

  • BRUCE ASATO / JAN. 15
                                Kauai Mayor Derek Kawakami joined other neighbor island mayors to go before state lawmakers to explain their legislative requests. Kawakami announced today that Gov. David Ige has signed Kauai’s Emergency Rule 16, which would permit visitors at participating resorts to leave their hotel rooms to utilize the resort’s property.

    BRUCE ASATO / JAN. 15

    Kauai Mayor Derek Kawakami joined other neighbor island mayors to go before state lawmakers to explain their legislative requests. Kawakami announced today that Gov. David Ige has signed Kauai’s Emergency Rule 16, which would permit visitors at participating resorts to leave their hotel rooms to utilize the resort’s property.

Kauai wants tourists to put a bracelet on it.

Kauai Mayor Derek S. K. Kawakami announced today that Gov. David Ige has signed Kauai’s Emergency Rule 16, which would permit visitors at participating resorts to leave their hotel rooms to utilize the resort’s property, including pools and on-site restaurants during their mandatory quarantine period. But there’s a catch, they’ve got to agree to wear an electronic monitoring bracelet, which will be tracked by participating resorts.

“We understand the need to address the economic hardship facing our tourism-based community, while also preserving the safety of our residents,” Kawakami said in a statement released today. “The resort bubble program is an added tool to reopening our economy while we learn to co-exist with this virus. It’s not a replacement or the final solution, and we will continue to keep our community updated as we make progress.”

Kawakami said Monday during a COVID-19 video update that the county has not set a date for when a resort bubble might open, but that “several hotels have expressed interest and we are working on a concrete plan.”

The order requires that participating resorts must establish security and enforcement policies to protect the safety of guests and employees. Participating resorts are responsible for security and enforcement of the program, and must continue to follow all other emergency rules, such as mask-wearing and physical distancing.

Hotel security will notify the Kauai Police Department if guests tamper with the monitoring unit or leave the resort bubble. Violators of these emergency orders, if convicted, could face a fine of up to $5,000 or serve up to a year in jail, or both.

For more information, visit www.kauai.gov/COVID-19.

Whether the program is a good idea or not has been the subject of widespread community and industry debate since Ige signed an order Aug. 20 allowing the counties to formulate resort bubble plans.

Kauai is the first county to get Ige’s approval on a plan, which might be a way to allow for the limited reopening of Hawaii leisure tourism, which collapsed amid COVID-19 fears and tourism lockdowns.

On Monday, Ige said that he’s likely to delay for the third time the start of a pre-arrivals testing program to reopen tourism in Hawaii.

The testing program would allow travelers who have taken an approved COVID- 19 test within 72 hours of traveling to Hawaii to bypass a mandatory 14-day self- quarantine for out-of-state passengers that’s been in place since March 26.

The plan, which was first announced in June, was originally going to launch Aug. 1, before Ige pushed it back to Sept. 1 and then Oct. 1 at the earliest.

“Just talking with many in the industry, it will probably not be Oct. 1,” Ige said Monday during an interview with “Spotlight Hawaii,” the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s Facebook Live show. “But in the next few days we’ll be providing a better plan for the scheduling of what those dates would look like.”

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