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Ige: Aloha, tourists; governor targets Nov. as safe opening for vaccinated

Gov. David Ige said the state will welcome tourists back to Hawaii on Nov. 1 as COVID continues to decline statewide.

During the Tuesday opening of a new permanent Federal Inspections Services facility at the Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport, Ige rescinded a statement he made on Aug. 23, when he asked travelers to stay away from Hawaii during a spike of COVID cases throughout the state.

“I think we are all encouraged by what we’ve seen over the last several weeks with the continuing trend of lower case counts,” Ige said Tuesday. “Our hospitals are doing better, and we have fewer COVID patients in them. Most importantly, our health care system has responded, and we have the ability to move forward with economic recovery. Because of this, it is now safe for fully vaccinated residents and visitors to resume non-essential travel to and within the State of Hawaii.”

Ige said the state will safely open to vaccinated residents and visitors traveling interisland and out of state for business or pleasure, starting Nov. 1. However, Ige’s communications director Cindy McMillan clarified that no changes will be made to the Safe Travels program on that date.

Mayor Mitch Roth said the county is prepared to welcome tourists back to the island by November.

“We’re excited to welcome back visitors from around the world under a newly established framework that aims to build tourism around our communities and not the other way around,” Roth said in a statement. “The pandemic has given us the pause we needed to reassess and reimagine tourism on our island. As a result, we have worked tirelessly with the Hawaii Tourism Authority, the Hawaii Island Visitors Bureau, and vested members of our community to create a Destination Management Action Plan that finally puts our community, its culture and values, and its well-being at the forefront of our redefined tourism industry.

“Together we will uphold the aloha spirit that welcomes, with open arms, visitors from all walks of life while protecting in perpetuity the people, places, and resources that make Hawaii Island so special,” Roth’s statement concluded.

A statement from Ige’s office added that the state will have a plan for international travel in place by Nov. 8, when the federal government will allow fully vaccinated international travelers to visit the U.S.

Email Michael Brestovansky at mbrestovansky@hawaiitribune-herald.com.
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald

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