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VOICES: Traveler testing beats vaccine passports

According to The Garden Island on Nov. 3 (aka 20 months into flatten the curve), Mayor Kawakami feels pressured by Governor Ige’s proclamation regarding opening restaurants at full capacity. Specifically, he feels we may have “no choice” but to start requiring proof of COVID vaccine or a negative test within 48 hours in order to go to restaurants and other select businesses. Just like they currently do in O‘ahu.

I don’t know who else has been to O‘ahu recently, but I’ve been, and it was terrible. The layers of bureaucracy were ridiculous. Not to mention, people who were fully vaccinated against COVID had no fewer restrictions than people who merely tested negative.

Both had to carry ID everywhere, as well as their cell phones. Both had to stand in lines, and be subject to silly wrist bands. In trying to make everything “safe,” O‘ahu drained all the life from Waikiki and Honolulu. The whole place was just depressing.

Empty storefronts and abandoned food courts sat within blocks of the multimillion-dollar Tesla store. My daughter and I were the only customers in the two-story, 4000 square-foot Victoria’s Secret.

Nothing in the city worked. Nothing made sense. In fact, I traveled to O‘ahu to look at the university at Manoa with my daughter, and the experience was so unpleasant that for now, she plans to go to KCC for a couple of years.

Now Kawakami suggests we may “have to” follow O‘ahu’s lead? Absurd! Why would we follow policies that have made O‘ahu so unpleasant that nobody wants to go there anymore?

Several places in America have implemented vaccine cards or other schemes, and it seems they work better in some places than others. According to my brother in New York (who is very pro-vaccine, by the way) vaccine passes in NYC work much like apartheid. Poor African Americans get asked for their ID and “papers” when they enter a restaurant, while rich, white patrons face no such demands.

I saw no such blatant racism in O‘ahu, thank goodness, but it’s easy to see how schemes that require ID and various government or medical documents to walk around can be used for the worst type of abuses.

Who likes being pulled over by the police and asked to show your license? Why would anyone want the same experience every time they go to a restaurant?

At some point, we need to recognize that what they are doing on O‘ahu is a terrible idea, and we don’t want that here on Kaua‘i. Checking papers all the time is bad for business, bad for society, and bad for tourism.

I’ve written before here that the best way to keep COVID out of Hawai‘i is to return to testing all travelers for COVID before they come—whether they are vaccinated or not.

Apparently, Ige felt that it was easier to ask for their documents three times a day, every time they went to eat a meal.

So instead of one inconvenience before coming, tourists get to experience dozens of inconveniences while here.

Well, that’s stupid. It just is. And if Kawakami has more than two brain cells to rub together, he won’t adopt that scheme here on Kaua‘i.

We don’t have the manpower, even if we wanted to. Enough is enough. Just say no.


Jennifer Cornforth is a resident of Kilauea
Source: The Garden Island

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