Hawaii governor says he could delay tourist return amid spike in coronavirus cases

Hawaii governor says he could delay tourist return amid spike in coronavirus cases

Hawaii officials are mulling delaying the start of a program that would allow out-of-state travelers to visit without quarantining for 14 days amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. 

Under the program, vacationers and other visitors could avoid quarantining by presenting a negative COVID-19 test. However, Hawaii Gov. David Ige (D) told reporters Thursday that “if things do not get better we will have no choice but to look at more restrictions.”

“That means we will be looking at a delay of the transpacific pre-travel [COVID-19] testing program,” he said. The program was set to begin on Sept. 1, but was already delayed due to rising coronavirus cases in the state.

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Hawaii on Thursday reported 355 COVID-19 infections, a new daily record. The state also reported two additional fatalities Thursday

"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,'' Ige told reporters, saying that a final decision on the program has not yet been made. 

The order has hit the state’s tourism industry. The Hawaii Tourism Authority said just 586 out-of-state visitors arrived on Wednesday, according to USA Today.

The state saw a 33 percent jump in COVID-19 cases in the week that ended August 12, the outlet reported. 

Travelers have had to quarantine for 14 days after arriving in Hawaii since March, although some visitors and essential workers can bypass the rule.