As Hawaii looks to restrict out-of-state arrivals, it finds that federal law will not allow the strict measures it wants to take.
Hawaii Emergency Management Agency Incident Commander Kenneth Hara said Monday that Gov. David Ige’s administration is exploring further stemming the flow of visitors amid the coronavirus pandemic by disrupting their ability to make hotel reservations.
Hara told a state House committee for the coronavirus that federal law won’t allow Hawaii to restrict travelers coming into the state.
“To try to circumvent that, we’re looking at possibly restricting their ability to make reservations with lodging,” Hara said, adding he was working with the state attorney general on the issue. The committee met through video conference, which was broadcast online and on television.
Ige last month urged visitors to postpone their Hawaii travel plans for at least 30 days. Shortly after, he issued an emergency order requiring all travelers landing in Hawaii to quarantine themselves for 14 days. The number of travelers dropped sharply after these policies were announced, but visitors have still been coming.
The Hawaii Tourism Authority said 91 visitors arrived in the state on Sunday and 89 the day before.
Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said his city will be asking the state how many travelers are staying at bed-and-breakfasts or vacation rentals. He said the information it receives may prompt the city to take further action.
Caldwell said the city declared such businesses nonessential and they shouldn’t be operating while Honolulu battles the pandemic.
“At the end of the day, we really don’t want to have any vacationers coming here for the duration of the stay-at-home, work-at-home orders and Governor Ige’s 14-day quarantine,” Caldwell said.
Hawaii recorded five more cases of the coronavirus on Monday, bringing the state’s total to 504.
Photo credit: The Royal Hawaiian hotel. Anthony Dolce / Flickr