“We know that it is not a good time to travel to the islands,” Ige, a Democrat, said Monday. “The visitors who choose to come to the islands will not have the typical kind of holiday that they expect to get when they visit.”
He said tourism is hampered by a return of some Covid health restrictions, along with a shortage of rental cars. “There will be limited access to restaurants and other places to eat,” he said.
Spurred by the highly transmissible Delta variant, Hawaii is in the midst of a surge in new Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations that has surpassed any previous point in the pandemic.
The state has averaged about 700 new cases per day over the last week, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, a total 10 times higher than in early July. In particular, Covid hospitalizations have doubled in the last two weeks, according to data from US Health and Human Services.
The restrictions had sharply limited new Covid-19 cases for much of the past year but had a brutal economic impact on a state so heavily reliant on tourism.
Gov. Ige acknowledged these issues but still asked visitors not to come to better protect hospitals from being overwhelmed.
“Certainly, our call to reduce travel to the islands to only central businesses will have an impact on the numbers who come here, but I also would like to point out that our hospitals are at capacity, our ICUs are full. We are working on surge plans and every facility to expand capacity, we’re transitioning acute care beds to be able to support those who are sick,” he said.
“And so, I do know that that’s a risk, but I believe that as a community that’s a risk we have to take to discourage travel to the islands until we can get to a better place with our health care facilities.”