Over the past week, our government officials in Hawaii have been pivoting their “public” focus from the re-opening of the local (we call it Kama’aina) economy to that of the tourism economy.
To many, an exclamation of “about time” was raised as it is very clear that no real recovery can be made to Hawaii’s economy without the re-introduction of tourism into it.
However, in observations, it became clear that quick and easy in-house solution to the myriad of questions coming out about the health of outside (and local) travelers was not to be found. In fact, in many of the statements made by public officials, the focus seemed to be more of out-of-town people rather than those residents who travel out, and then return.
Currently, unless you’re on official business, or a crew of an airplane, anyone coming into Hawaii must be health checked, their locations known, and then for 14 days, stay in isolation and quarantine. This goes for residents returning as well as visitors.
The fact is that as the other states open up, there are going to be more travelers coming to Hawaii. We already see it with higher and higher counts of arrivals to the state. Because we are a state in the United States, locking down our state from the outside is impossible – Hawaii government officials in the last two months have asked for that, with the answer being “no”.
As for locals, its been said that Las Vegas will be reopening its casino’s on June 4. In an informal ask of friends who know of people who like to go to Vegas from Hawaii, by and large it seems as soon as the casino’s open, Hawaii residents will be on planes heading over there.
And trust me, they aren’t going to give a hoot about 14-day quarantines coming back, being tested or any other regulation that will limit their ability to get to Vegas, and the tables and the machines there.
With this, it might behoove our government officials who oversee the current scheme to be thinking outside the box as to how to safely open up travel for visitors and locals.
A solution that government officials may want to explore is the idea of coordination between our state and other states – their airport authorities and governing bodies. This coordination goes beyond the plan that Rep. McDermott and Ward put forward. It would require actual conversation with other governments to see if they would be willing to agree to a plan.
As for what that plan would entail, it would need to include provisions for residents to safely come home to Hawaii for care. The fear is that if there is imposed a scheme to bar people from boarding planes on the mainland if they are declared to be sick, then residents of Hawaii could be stranded in the mainland until given the all clear.
And I am sure while some going to Vegas will be okay sticking around to play the slots more, I would bet many would not be able to stay longer than their intended visit and need to come home to work and live as residents.
Coordination may be the key. Now lets see if Hawaii’s government, who seems to have a problem with coordination in-house, is able to do this.