It appears that the curve has been flattened. I have read a few opinions about when we should restart tourism but I have not seen any specific plans from our leaders and experts.

This worries me.

I am one of the thousands in Hawaii whose source of income has been severely impacted by COVID-19’s effect on the travel industry. We need a plan on how to restart the visitor industry without igniting a second wave like in Hokkaido.

Just as important as the question of when, is the question of how.

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell was lambasted for his comments about opening Kauai, and I expect to receive the same here.

My proposal is not perfect and possibly naive, but I feel it is safe, practical, and less legally questionable than ankle GPS trackers or gambling on sci-tech innovations that are still in development.

Waikiki Zoo aerial Waikiki along Kapahulu Avenue Ala Wai Golf course watershed 0407.
Waikiki is pretty much a ghost town. But what if we restricted tourists there to help us recover from COVID-19 but also keep locals safe? Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Here is the plan:

  1. Open Waikiki to visitors and restrict them to Waikiki. Waikiki shall also be closed to Hawaii residents who do not work there. Masks and social distancing standards will still apply but no 14-day room quarantines required. Beaches, shopping, and partitioned dining will be open to visitors within Waikiki.
  2. Waikiki is surrounded by water on three sides. The boundaries are enforceable with the Ala Wai Canal on the Mauka side curving down to the Ewa side where the three bridges will be closed. Kapahulu Avenue will be barricaded and guarded on the Diamond Head end.
  3. Designated shuttles will transport visitors between the airport and Waikiki only. No other modes of transportation allowed into and out of Waikiki.
  4. At the airport, all arriving passengers are either designated Waikiki or non-Waikiki. The existing 14-day room quarantine will still be required for non-Waikiki, and resources for quarantine enforcement shall be aimed and focused on non-Waikiki visitors.
  5. Employees and residents who work or live within Waikiki or the airport are identified and regularly tested. Efficacy of contact tracing for this identifiable group will be enhanced.
  6. Residents wishing to enter Waikiki for leisure or staycations are subject to the 14-day home quarantine upon exit.

Obviously, the COVID-19 crisis underscores the need for diversification away from a tourism based economy but raising the issue now is not constructive.

As things stand, recovery and diversification will only be achieved through the economic flow from tourism.

Regardless of how you feel about this plan and tourism’s grip on our throats, we need a real plan that rekindles the economy and protects kamaaina.

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