By Juergen T Steinmetz / ETN
Hawaii today put in the toughest measure of any state in sealing itself from further importing COVID-19.
Hawaii Governor David Ige told visitors not to come to Hawaii and urged tourists already in the state to leave. He also urged Hawaii residents outside the state planning to return to do so before Thursday.
Located more than 2500 miles from California, Hawaii is a US state. Only the federal government would have the power to order flights to stop from coming to Hawaii. A state governor doesn’t have the power to stop flights, but here is how Hawaii as an island state is enforcing a ban on visitors and returning residents.
Starting March 26, 12.01 am (Thursday), anyone arriving at any airport in Hawaii, or arriving by ship will be quarantined for 14 days. Compliance will be checked by authorities. Violating the order is a misdemeanor offense with a maximum fine of $5,000 and up to one-year imprisonment.
Anyone arriving in Hawaii after Thursday will be traced and the place of quarantine has to be communicated to authorities after landing.
Residents will be quarantined at their home, arriving visitors will be required to stay in their hotel room for two weeks, unable to leave the room for that period.
This measure is put in place to effectively shut down the state and protect the Hawaiian people from further import of the virus from the Mainland or abroad.
Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said: “This has never been done in our history and it breaks my heart to do stop the visitor’s industry.”
The Governor added his highest responsibility is to the people of Hawaii and the safety and health of anyone in the State.
The Governor said, Hawaii has a fragile infrastructure and all resources available should be used for residents. He said: “We don’t want travelers to come here and take resources from our community. Quarantine is to discourage travelers to go on a Hawaii vacation at this time. We can’t wait to welcome them back after all this is over.”
Consequently, many hotels may close, and mass unemployment may be forthcoming.
So far Marriott’s Ko Olina Hotels, the Four Seasons, Disney Aulani already said they would close operation. It includes their attractions and golf courses.
Airlines are expected to adjust in canceling most flights, effectively isolating Hawaii for human passengers from the US Mainland and abroad.
Muffi Hannemann, President & CEO of the Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association, said the hospitality industry is standing behind Governor Ige’s measures to protect the state from coronavirus.
Hawaiian Airlines CEO Ingram pointed out his planes are safe and flight attendants are protected during their work. At the same time, he will support the Governor in his new measures and make adjustments for the airline.
The Governor concluded: “I am proud of the tourism industry stepping up. Our “Ohana (community family)” is together and our Aloha Spirit will remain.”
The Governor made clear a complete shutdown of the State is not yet planned, but all options are on the table. He said he believes in Hawaiian residents doing the right thing. If any place in the world can do this, Hawaii can.