Concerns remain about whether Hawaii is really ready to welcome back tourists, a percentage of whom, despite testing efforts, could still be introducing new COVID-19 cases onto the islands.
Critics argue that a single test taken within 72 hours of arrival, combined with the option of flying to Hawaii without testing and quarantining instead, isn’t adequate enough protection from importing fresh infection.
Proponents, including the state’s Lieutenant Governor Josh Green, say that the economic strain of keeping Hawaii closed to outsiders cannot be borne much longer and outweighs the potential health risks. He has argued that visitors aren’t the problem, but that increased adherence to safety protocols, such as mask-wearing, social distancing and elevated hygiene practices, is the key to containing COVID-19—tourists or no.
U.S. mainlanders have been waiting months for Hawaii to follow through with its long-delayed tourism reopening and pre-travel testing program, which enables travelers to bypass quarantine with a valid, negative COVID-19 test.
When that day finally came yesterday, roughly 8,000 visitors reportedly arrived in the Aloha State ready for some sunshine and relaxation.