BY: KARMA ALLEN, ABC NEWS
Hawaii Gov. David Ige announced the plan in a press conference late Monday, saying the state would delay reopening to tourists until August. He said all travelers who enter the state, even those who have tested negative for the virus, will be subject to a mandatory 14-day quarantine through Sept. 1.
Ige, who said the state recently set a new record of 42 new infections in a single day, cited “uncontrolled outbreaks and surges” on the U.S. mainland as well as increases in COVID-19 cases within the state. The U.S. has become the worst-affected country by far, with more than 3.3 million diagnosed cases and at least 136,000 deaths as of Tuesday.
The state’s previous plan was to allow tourists who test negative for COVID-19 within 72 hours of arriving in Hawaii to bypass the mandatory two-week self-quarantine starting in August. But with the influx of new cases, officials said it was impossible to reopen safely.
“The recent increase was a key factor in our decision of the recent start of the pre-travel testing program for travelers to Hawaii,” Ige told reporters Monday. “The outbreaks on the mainland are not in control and we don’t believe that situation will change significantly by August 1.”
Ige acknowledged the potential impact the delayed reopening will have on the state’s tourist economy as well as local businesses, but he said it was the only way to stem the uptick in positive cases, as states like Florida, Texas and Arizona saw massive spikes upon reopening prematurely.
“We did believe it would be in the best interest of everyone here in the state of Hawaii to delay the start of the program to Sept. 1,” Ige said. “I know this increases the burden of businesses here in Hawaii … we still believe in the pre-testing program and we will take actions to implement it safely.”
Hawaii has counted 1,243 COVID-19 cases after logging a record 42 new cases on Saturday. Some 13.1 million people have been diagnosed with COVID-19 globally, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.
The actual numbers are believed to be much higher due to testing shortages, many unreported cases, and suspicions that some governments are hiding or downplaying the scope of their nations’ outbreaks.
The U.S. tourism sector has been hit hard by the ongoing pandemic.
Earlier, Delta Air Lines — the first major U.S. airline to report earnings results for the May-through-June quarter — said the company lost $5.7 billion during the three-month period that largely brought travel to halt.
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.