Hawaii welcoming vaccinated tourists in November

Hawaii Gov. David Ige (D) on Wednesday invited fully vaccinated people to travel in and out of Hawaii for nonessential travel beginning Nov. 1, citing a drop in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

"Our hospitals are doing better, we are we have less Covid patients in them. And I think most importantly, our healthcare system has responded and feels like we do have the ability to move forward with economic recovery," Ige said during an event at the Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport, according to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

"Because of this, it is now safe for fully-vaccinated residents and visitors to resume non-essential travel to and within the state of Hawaii. Beginning November 1st, we want to invite and encourage fully vaccinated visitors and residents to travel for business or leisure trans-pacific and inter-island," Ige added.

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In August, Ige told tourists to stay home and not visit Hawaii as COVID-19 cases were surging. "I encourage everyone to restrict and curtail travel to Hawaii, residents and visitors alike. It is not a good time to travel to the islands," Ige said at the time.

Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association President and CEO Mufi Hannemann told the Star-Advertiser that he and a group of Hawaii business representatives had pushed for the Nov. 1 timeline for nonessential travel.

“While we recognize that there are still details that need to be sorted out—paying special mind to input from the county mayors and information provided by the healthcare community and the business sector—this announcement is an important first step toward getting our economy moving again safely and judiciously,” Hannemann told the newspaper.

According to the Hawaii State Department of Health, the state's new case rate has dropped by nearly 50 percent in the past two weeks. Around 70 percent of the state's population is fully vaccinated.