HONOLULU, Hawaii — Hawaii Gov. David Ige is asking potential tourists not to visit the islands through the end of October as the state battles an increase in COVID-19 patients due in large part to the delta variant.
At a press conference on Monday, Ige said Hawaii is seeing more COVID-19 patients in its hospitals, and “the ICUs are filling up.” According to the state’s health department, there have been more than 9,300 new cases in the past two weeks, with a majority of the new cases in Oahu.
The state is asking both residents and visitors to reduce travel in Hawaii to essential business activities only, according to Ige.
“I encourage everyone to restrict and curtail travel to Hawaii, residents and visitors alike,” said Ige.
The governor said it’s not a good time to visit the island for a variety of reasons, including coronavirus restrictions affecting business capacities.
“Restaurant capacity has been restricted, there is limited access to rent-a-cars, and we know that the visitors who choose to come to the islands will not have the typical kind of holiday that they expect to get when they visit Hawaii,” he said.
The president of the Hawaii Tourism Authority, John De Fries, also said in a statement that visitors should consider postponing their travels to the islands.
“Our community, residents, and the visitor industry, are responsible for working together to address this crisis,” De Fries said. “As such, we are strongly advising visitors that now is not the right time to travel, and they should postpone their trips through the end of October.”
Ige said the state is taking action to combat the coronavirus on the islands.
“We know that we need to take action now in order to reduce the spread of COVID and ensure that our hospitals are not overrun,” he said.
Ige signed an executive order earlier this month limiting social gatherings to no more than 10 people indoors and no more than 25 outdoors. The order also says patrons in restaurants, bars, and social establishments must remain seated with parties maintaining at least 6 feet of distance between groups, and masks must be worn at all times except when actively eating or drinking.
The city and county of Honolulu also announced Monday that all large organized gatherings on O‘ahu will be suspended through Sept. 22 and it may be extended.
Ige said the state is also increasing efforts to provide testing across the state. He added that it may take six to seven weeks to see a significant change in the number of cases as a result of the actions being taken.
The governor said that getting vaccinated is the most important thing you can do to protect yourself and others from COVID-19, as well as help the state and country return to normal. He added that 62% of the state’s residents were fully vaccinated as of Monday.