Paradise deferred? Hawaii officials ‘looking at’ delaying tourist return amid spike in COVID-19 cases

Hoping to vacation in Hawaii in September?

You might have to rethink those plans.

Given the state’s rapidly rising COVID-19 case counts, officials are “looking at” delaying the start of a much-anticipated program that would allow out-of-state visitors to vacation there without quarantining for 14 days by presenting a negative COVID-19 test, Hawaii Gov. David Ige said during a news conference late Thursday.

The program, announced in June, is set to begin September 1. It was already delayed once, a month ago, due to rising cases on the mainland and in Hawaii.

“If things do not get better we will have no choice but to look at more restrictions,” Ige said. “That means we will be looking at a delay of the transpacific pre-travel (COVID-19) testing program.”

“I know that going backwards will cause further harm to our economy,  but we have always said the health and safety of our community will be the highest priority,” the governor said.

Ige said no decision has been made, but issued his strongest comments to date about the likelihoodof a pushback.

“With the case count increasing the way it has, it would be very difficult to implement and start the pre-travel (COVID-19) testing program on September 1,” he said. 

He said officials want to see another “few days of data” to see the impact of restrictions announced last week, including the closing of beaches and parks in Honolulu.

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