COVID-19 on Big Island -Summer 2020 Uncertain Days Ahead

Mayors of the State of Hawaii

I  watched Governor Ige’s Facebook Live broadcast with all the Mayors of the islands and I see leaders who are in a very tough position.

Mayor Harry Kim, stated, “Hawaii is in such great shape compared to the rest of the Country. Our priority is public health first and second, the economy. We have to make sure it’s safe to reopen.”

As soon as I heard that the Governor extended the 14 day travel restriction past June 30th, I could almost hear the Hawaii business owner community groan in unison, as well as many of my 365Kona fans who have been telling me about their planned vacation to Hawaii Island this summer. (Many with July plans specifically).

Personally, the small victory of seeing our local restaurants and private gyms able to open on June 1st, will help our local community both for business and for mental health and sanity as people can see their friends again. I have a few of my friends who will remain cautious and will continue social distancing and will wear their masks in public as they are in a high risk group.

In the broadcast, one of the Mayors spoke about the second wave. He said he knows we most likely will experience it, but how big of a wave? He asked will it be a tsunami, an Eddie Akau sized wave or smaller? Another Mayor said masks are most likely going to be in our future for a long time. He pointed to Japan, a culture who we see travel with masks all the time.

“If we make a mis-step, we have to back track and we don’t want to have to do that”, stated Maui Mayor Victorino.

Mayor Kim, in discussing swimming pools, said he will look at those most carefully, as people put water in their mouths and spit it out. “It’s nice to have pools, but we don’t need them as we have a beautiful ocean out there.”  That will have an impact on resort and condo complex enjoyment, too.

For camping, Mayor Kim said he can open those without a problem. So, let’s see when. I really want to get up to Kalopa State Park to pitch a tent with the kids to have a chance to celebrate summer in a small way.

Will tourists need to provide test results before traveling to Hawaii? 

“The well being and health of our communities is paramount. We believe COVID19 will come from outside the islands. Trying to test people AFTER they land is not going to work. Giving people the security in knowing they are not flying with infected people will be important. Testing 72 hours in advance of travel is key in opening up the islands again.” It was also mentioned that if there is a hot zone of infections, that restrictions for people coming from that area may also arise.

Honolulu Mayor Caldwell brought up the fact if we are not careful that billions has been spent and lost on the first round of dealing with COVID19 and we don’t have that to spend again. “We need to be careful”

Short Term Vacation Rentals 

Maui County Mayor said the resort areas were created to welcome tourists. Not the neighborhoods. “We are on the wrong list on Expedia for being on the top for how many short term vacation rentals are available. We need to take care of the resorts and hotels first. We have a large number of illegal vacation rentals.” This is a common sentiment among the leaders of the islands. As you know, we just had the bill passed to fine illegal rentals,  so look for tight restrictions on housing outside of hotels and designated condos as you travel to Hawaii.

In terms of who Hawaii Island is focusing on during COVID-19, Mayor Kim stated, “This is our home. This is where we work and live with our children. Our priority is for the residents of our state, for our people here. Big Island is the only island that is not seeing an exodus of their residents.” (stating that because the other islands have priced out their residents, making them have to leave the state, Hawaii Island is an exception.)

Beaches open, Bars and Pools Closed 

So, in listening to this broadcast it is clear that Hawaii bars and community pools are out for now, my friends. To err on the side of caution is better than not is the common sentiment and patience is needed. We are in a time that for now our state is safe. And the fear that things can change very quickly if things are not handled thoughtfully. (Kim made it a point to say pools were not deemed safe, but saw a Mayor decree saying indoor pools could open..need to get further clarification on WHICH pools can open)

And So We Continue To Hunker Down

The mainland still has an upward trend in new cases. 100,000 people have died. The County mayors are working together to ensure the safety of their communities. They know people are making sacrifices right now to help us all get through this.

“We are going to work and grind our way through this. We are in a challenging situation”, the Kauai Mayor stated. “This is a marathon”, Governor Ige ended with. “Take responsibility for not infecting others. We will only be successful if everyone takes  personal responsibility. Please take care of yourself and each other and take care of our community.”

So, there we are. Still hunkering down while the world battles a pandemic, and we have the blessing of having no deaths on Hawaii Island.

I will keep you posted as I learn more about plans to open the island to inter-island travel and testing as it pertains to opening the island again to visitors.

As of this afternoon, the comments are flying on my FB page at 365 Things to Do In Kona. I see all sides and I wrote this post as a factual document from what was covered.

 

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Julie Ziemelis

Julie Ziemelis is the creator of 365Kona, 365 Things to Do in Kona on Facebook, 365Hawaii on YouTube, the Kona Newbies Group, the "Best of Kona" Festival and author of "How to Move to Kona" and "The Insiders Guide to Buying Real Estate on the Big Island of Hawaii". Both Eric and Julie Ziemelis are passionate about creating an amazing experience for anyone who wants to vacation or buy real estate on the Big Island of Hawaii.

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