As the islands struggle, some Hawaii residents have begun a revolt against re-opening amid COVID-19. What’s happening in Hawaii?
UPDATE: The previous title of this post was “Hawaiian Islanders” but was not intended to indicate a subset of residents of the state of Hawaii by ethnicity. Rather, it was intended to include all who reside on the Hawaiian Islands. The title has been changed to “Hawaii Residents.”
Hawaii Re-Opened the Islands to Outsiders
The governor of Hawaii has removed a strict 14-day quarantine requirement for arrivals to the islands and replaced it with a waiver for those who have a negative COVID-19 test result. Several airlines have made accommodations to offer travelers an opportunity to conduct their test in the airport terminal.
The Hawaiian economy was clearly suffering and the state had flattened the curve (sufficient medical resources to absorb new COVID cases). For the sake of the long-term livelihood of the islands which depend on tourism to survive, the Governor gave the order, still one of the strictest in the US.
But They Didn’t Open Their Hearts Or Restaurants
The people of Hawaii weren’t really ready for outsiders. Some restaurants are not serving non-Hawaii residents. There’s no doubt that businesses in the US have the right to refuse service, but there are limitations on that. For example, businesses can’t discriminate, but geolocation is not likely to fit discrimination criteria.
It’s more of an attitude and unjustified concern. The people of Hawaii have to protect themselves more than other states due to their isolation, if hospitals are overrun, they can’t just run an ambulance ten minutes down the road to another town. That said, visitors to the islands have already proven themselves to be free of the virus in a way that locals have not. Logically speaking, if limitations are imposed on the public, shouldn’t those limitations apply to those who cannot prove they are COVID-19 free as locals who have not been tested cannot. It seems they should only serve tourists if COVID-19 is the restaurant owner’s principal concern.
From Hawaii residents I know, the impression is that the rest of the US is ludicrous in their approach to the virus. I’d note that it’s a little bit easier for Hawaii to isolate and control their situation without highways and nearby states. That said, animus toward tourists is backward and unfounded.
Or Their Hotels
Hotels weren’t ready to re-open either, many remain closed. I personally reached out to half a dozen high-profile properties around the islands and many not only aren’t open but don’t have a date for re-opening. This is a little surprising to me, given the push to return tourism.
Big ships turn slowly. Hotels that committed themselves to refit the hotels after weeks or months of struggling while trying to remain open can’t now walk back that commitment and investment. However, if the negative test model that Hawaii is running becomes the standard (I think it will), hotels might miss out on potential revenue when they need it most.
What is being masked as COVID-19 concern by some Hawaii residents is, in my opinion, more endemic of the local view of outsiders than it is a matter of safety. As stated, on a purely logical basis, if one could choose to only have confirmed negative COVID-19 clients, they would have an objectively safer business environment. To shun those that have been confirmed safe, in favor of those who are completely untested is cognitive dissonance. Hotels, I feel, were likely simply too late to react to shutdowns, too optimistic about re-opening periods, and as the virus dragged on globally longer than virtually anyone imagined, they found themselves committed to carrying-out extended shutdowns.
What do you think? Are these microaggressions against tourists generally? Is there a stigma about travel that’s so ingrained that people assume the opposite of what’s true?