Hawaii Mayor Calls for Reimposing Pre-travel Testing and Beach Closures amidst Delta Surge

Hawaii Mayor Calls for Reimposing Pre-travel Testing and Beach Closures

Hawaii County Mayor Mitch Roth has officially requested Governor David Ige to reintroduce pre-travel testing for mainland travelers regardless of their vaccination status and also to shut down beaches and parks due to a recent uptick in COVID on the Big Island.

Mayor Roth cites as the main reason for his request the precarious situation in most Hawaii and Honolulu hospitals where locals, sick with coronavirus, have to wait “for days” to get a bed in ER rooms.

“The consistent rise of COVID-19 cases within the State of Hawaii and across the country has reached record heights and has put an unbearable strain on our health systems and communities at-large,” the letter said. “On Hawaii Island alone, our hospitals are at capacity and are unable to in-take any more critical care patients.”

According to data offered by the Mayor over 90% of hospitalized patients in Hawaii are unvaccinated.

“Almost everybody in our ICU is unvaccinated, almost everybody dying is unvaccinated,” he said.

The Mayor not only is pointing his fingers at trans-pacific travelers for the COVID-19 surge but also the lack of control on overtourism that has led visitors to hang out at beaches “jam-packed like sardines.”

He also urged locals and visitors to avoid big gatherings, wear face masks, observe social distancing and get vaccinated against COVID-19 to help fight the virus. 

Hawaii Honolulu at Night

At this point, it’s hard to tell if Gov. Ige will approve both of the requests. He has indeed reinstated social gathering mandates such as limiting indoor groups to 10 people and outdoor groups to 25.

He has also reintroduced a 50% limited capacity for bars and restaurants but has resisted to enforce harder measures such as lockdowns and enhanced travel requirements.

Starting July 8, the state of Hawaii began allowing mainland fully vaccinated travelers to visit the islands without requiring a pre-travel test or quarantine. 

At one point, authorities thought that fully vaccinated people could leave masks behind and go back to the normal the islands have been longing for. But the new COVID-19 variants pretty much woke up them all from that dream. 

In a recent study by University of Oxford scientists found that people who contract the Delta variant of COVID-19 carry a similar amount of coronavirus even when fully vaccinated. 

Growing data and the reality that Hawaii is enduring demonstrate that the pandemic is far from being over. 

Definitely a pre-travel test for everybody will definitely reduce the probability of transmission,” said epidemiologist from University of Hawaii Dr. Thomas Lee.