September traditionally marks the start of Hawaii’s “shoulder” season, when the number of visitors dips as mainland and local families send their children back to school. It’s a time of warm weather, low airfares and tourist-enticing events such as the Aloha Festivals, set to begin its 75th anniversary with a Royal Court investiture in Waikiki on Sept. 18. 

But with coronavirus cases and hospitalizations surging to record levels across the state, many in the islands are questioning the ethics of traveling there now. While Gov. David Ige has simply asked visitors and residents to postpone nonessential travel, others point to the decisive action of a real-life royal, Queen Liliuokalani.
  
This Labor Day weekend would normally have seen hundreds of domestic and international competitors, and thousands of supporters and spectators in Kailua-Kona for the world’s largest outrigger canoe competition, the Queen Liliuokalani Canoe Race, founded in 1972. But in the spirit of the race’s namesake, whose birthday is Sept. 2, the organizers first limited the event to paddlers from Hawaii Island, and then recently canceled it altogether.

“Queen Liliuokalani witnessed many illnesses and several pandemics in her time and always put her people first, ensuring their resiliency and survival,” according to the Aug. 11. statement from Kai Opua Canoe Club, which specifically recalled the steps the monarch took to limit the spread of smallpox while she was serving as regent in 1881. 

As regent, Liliuokalani “summoned her cabinet and made the decision to shut down Oahu, stopping inter-island travel, prohibiting vessels from taking on any passengers, and quarantining the sick. These regulations were so strictly enforced that when they were raised, no cases outside of the area where the sickness first appeared were reported,” the statement noted.

Barbara Koenig, a medical anthropologist and registered nurse who recently retired as a professor and director of the UCSF Bioethics Program, notes that the ethics of travel depend on “who is making the decision and about what.”


For example, the government has to balance the health benefits of a total lockdown with the impact on a tourism-dependent economy. “If no one can eat and no one can work, then it doesn’t matter if you close down the economy,” she noted. 

“The other groups of decision makers are all those people who are making individual choices to fly to particular areas,” Koenig said. “They should definitely not go to an area with no hospital or ICU beds, because if they get sick, they’re going to burden the system further.”

Koenig said she had considered traveling to Hawaii this summer, because “I’d been in the San Francisco fog all summer, and it’s been hard not seeing the sun or having warmth. … But when everyone pointed out to me Hawaii is a place you shouldn’t go right now, I took it off my list.”

On the other hand, some travel may be justified despite the risk to the health system, Koenig said, such as that of a friend who lives in Northern California but flies

A woman attempting to use a fake COVID-19 vaccine card with the shot maker listed as “Maderna,” instead of Moderna, was arrested in Hawaii and is facing up to $5,000 in fines and potential jail time.

Chloe Mrozak was arrested at the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport in Honolulu on Saturday for violating Hawaii Gov. David Ige’s emergency proclamation, Gary H. Yamashiroya, spokesperson for the Department of the Attorney General, confirmed to USA TODAY.

She was “attempting to bypass the state’s quarantine requirement by submitting a falsified vaccination card,” Yamashiroya said.

►’I’m conflicted’:Travelers weigh Hawaii plans after governor begs tourists not to come amid COVID-19 surge

►What it means for travelers:Hawaii’s governor tells tourists to stay away amid COVID-19 surge

Hawaii has the most stringent COVID entry requirements in the country under the Safe Travels program introduced in October. To bypass a mandatory 10-day quarantine, travelers must show proof of vaccination or present a negative COVID-19 test taken no more than three days before arrival.

Ian Scheuring, content distribution director at Hawaii News Now posted an image of the fake vaccine card on Twitter.

The fine for falsifying proof of testing or vaccination proof for travel in Hawaii carries a fine of up to $5,000 and/or prison time for up to one year for each count. 

“Our department will prosecute these crimes to the fullest extent provided by the law,” Yamashiroya said.

Mrozak was unable to post bail – which was set at $2,000 – and was placed in custody, pending a Monday court appearance. The case continued Wednesday for the waiving or demanding of a jury trial.

“The Department of the Attorney General is committed to vigorous enforcement of the Governor’s Emergency Proclamation,” Yamashiroya said. “Everyone should know that falsified CDC cards are a federal offense and in some states, it is a separate state charge.”

Yamashiroya said Mrozak was charged with one count of “Hawaii Revised Statutes 127A-29 Violation of Emergency Proclamation.”

Mrozak arrived in Oahu on Aug. 23, according to Hawaii News Now, and presented her vaccine card which read “Maderna” instead of “Moderna” leaving authorities with an inkling that something might be off, prompting an investigation.

The Department of the Attorney General declined to share an image of the vaccination card, but the images found online list her place of vaccination as Delaware with the National Guard administering the dose of “Maderna” to Mrozak. When investigators called the state, there was no record of her vaccination, according to Hawaii News Now.

Mrozak also left the airport having listed Holiday Inn Express in Waikiki as the location at which she would stay while in the Aloha state but her reservation couldn’t be confirmed, Hawaii News Now reported.

►CDC director says:Unvaccinated people should not travel Labor Day weekend

►Don’t make these Hawaii travel mistakes:Wrong COVID-19 tests, missing vaccine info and wristband envy

Mrozak isn’t the first tourist to have been arrested for presenting false information in relation to COVID-19.

Last month, two more

In recent weeks, the State of Hawaii — like much of the United States — has seen a surge in Delta variant COVID-19 cases. Recently, Governor David Ige pleaded with would-be tourists at a press conference, saying, “Now is not the time to visit the islands.”

aulani lazy river
Credit: Disney

Related: Disney Has Reinvented Buffets (and It’s Amazing!)

Hawaii has had strict requirements for travelers throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, such as a mandatory 14-day quarantine on arrival or, to avoid self-isolating, COVID-19 testing within 72 hours of departure. Many of these measures are still in place for unvaccinated travelers.

In July 2021, the testing and quarantine requirements for fully vaccinated vacationers were lifted.

aulani
Credit: Disney

Related: Hawaii Won’t Recover Until 2029: How Might This Impact Aulani?

Nonetheless, with hospital beds in the island state scarce, USA Today reports:

“It’s not a good time to travel to the islands,” he [Governor Ige] said at a news conference Monday.

Monday’s announcement does not mean travelers cannot visit Hawaii, as the state did not tighten its entry requirements. Since October, travelers have been able to visit by presenting a negative COVID test to bypass the state’s strict quarantine. In July, the testing requirement went away for vaccinated travelers.

There has been speculation the testing requirement would return due to the spike in COVID cases from the delta variant but Ige said that is difficult to do since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says domestic travel is safe for vaccinated travelers.

chip and dale aulani
Credit: Disney

Related: Disney Cruise Line Makes Big Change to Face Mask Policy

USA Today also shared that Ige has spoken with businesses within the tourism sector, including airlines and hotels — like Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, though it is not known if Aulani was specifically singled out for a conversation with the Governor — asking that they “do what they could” to curb tourism at this time.

Ige told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser:

“I think it’s important that we reduce the number of visitors coming here to the islands. Certainly, I expect cooperation from the visitor industry.”

aulani
Credit: Disney

It is important to note that visitors from the contiguous United States are not banned from traveling to Hawaii at this time — the Governor is simply urging caution and would prefer people delay vacations if at all possible.

How does this impact Disney’s Aulani?

While Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa in Ko’Olina, Oahu has not issued a statement specific to Governor Ige’s recent comments, there is little doubt that the Resort is being affected by families delaying their Hawaiian vacations.

aulani overview
Credit: Disney

Related: Aulani Moves Towards Family-Friendly, Removes Adult-Only Experience

Right now, it does not seem as though Aulani intends to reduce offerings or alter the amenities that are currently available, including socially distanced character breakfasts at Makahiki restaurant and the KA WA‘A, a Lu‘au event.

If you have plans to visit Disney’s Hawaii Resort in the near future, however, make sure you regularly check the property’s official website

Editor’s note: This comes as many countries update travel regulations. Learn more about potential travel restrictions to countries in the European Union here.

Hawaii officials are considering a stay-at-home order for Labor Day weekend after the state suffered its worst day ever for coronavirus cases on Sunday.

There were two deaths and 1,678 new cases reported Sunday, the highest total since the pandemic began nearly 18 months ago, the State Department of Health reported.

Hawaii has now surpassed 62,000 cases and nearly 600 deaths since the pandemic began, numbers that have state officials alarmed.

“No matter how you slice it, COVID-19 is running roughshod through the islands, and people must take necessary steps to protect themselves,” Lt. Gov. Josh Green told The Honolulu Star-Advertiser. “Vaccinate. Mask. Distance. Stay home when sick. Avoid crowds.”

With cases on the rise, hospitals are being overrun by patients. Health Director Elizabeth Char said 414 people were hospitalized on Sunday with coronavirus, and hospitals are at a breaking point.

“If our numbers continue to press up against 500, I think that the governor and mayors will have to strongly consider life-preserving policy changes, which would at least mean a 72-hour stay-at-home order over the holiday,” Green said. “We saw what happened over July Fourth. Labor Day could be like pouring gasoline over the fire.”

Governor David Ige offered a different message, however, taking to social media Sunday night to dispute that a shutdown is imminent.

“There have been rumors circulating about a shutdown in Hawaii,” Ige wrote on Twitter. “I want to clear the record that there are currently no plans to shut down. All posts on social media being distributed by other means are not true. Official announcements will always come from official channels.”

But Ige himself said last week that a shutdown was “on the table” as Hawaii deals with rising COVID numbers. Last Monday, Ige urged tourists to stay away from the islands right now.

“It is not a good time to travel to the islands. I encourage everyone to restrict and curtail travel to Hawaii,” Ige said last week. “Is a lockdown on the table? Yes, it would be if the number of cases continues to grow exponentially as it has in the last 10 weeks. Then we will have to take action to limit and ensure that the hospitals aren’t overrun.”

Green said top government and health officials will meet early this week to discuss the numbers and a plan for action. But as residents and tourists await a decision, the numbers continue to look grim.

“This tidal wave of cases is straining our ability to respond at all levels — our hospitals, our labs and even our morgues are nearing or at capacity,” Char said. “We have not yet reached the peak of this surge, and we will not until Hawaii residents take further steps to protect themselves and their families.”

One doctor told Hawaii News Now that there is no other option at this point.

“Our

(CNN) — Since March 2020, would-be travelers have experienced more turbulence on the ground than in the air. As always, though, CNN Travel are your attendants on hand to guide you through the safety instructions and point our your nearest exits.

1. Bahamas, Sint Maarten and more have been added to US ‘do not travel’ list

The CDC now advises Americans to not plan Bahamas vacations.

The CDC now advises Americans to not plan Bahamas vacations.

Andre Seale/VWPCS/AP

The Bahamas and Morocco are now among the highest-risk destinations for travelers, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s regularly revised travel advisories list.

They moved to the top tier on August 23, along with Sint Maarten, Haiti, Kosovo and Lebanon. The recommendation for these destinations is to avoid all nonessential travel.

2. Seven new destinations have been added to the UK’s ‘green list’

Canada, including Niagara Falls, has been added to the UK's "green list."

Canada, including Niagara Falls, has been added to the UK’s “green list.”

Peter Power/The Canadian Press/AP

Canada, Denmark, Finland, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Lithuania and the Azores are all new additions to the UK’s travel “green list.” This means that UK visitors who want to go there have to take a pre-departure test, as well as a PCR test on or before day two of their arrival back in the UK. They don’t need to quarantine.

Thailand and Montenegro have moved to the UK’s “do not travel” red list.

3. Denmark will lift all Covid restrictions on September 10

H.C. Andersen's House opens on June 30th 2021 in Odense, Denmark

A Hans Christian Andersen museum opened in his hometown of Odense, Denmark, in June 2021.

Kengo Kuma & Associates, mir.no

Denmark is in the top 10 of the world’s most vaccinated countries, and it’s marking this pandemic success by lifting all of its remaining Covid restrictions on September 10.

Minister of Health Magnus Heunicke said in a statement Friday that “even though we are in a good place right now (…) the government will not hesitate to act quickly if the pandemic again threatens important functions in our society.”

4. Hawaii is asking tourists to stay away

FILE David Ige 2020

Hawaii Governor David Ige speaking at a news conference in 2020.

Marco Garcia/AP

Hawaii Governor David Ige asked tourists Monday to voluntarily stay away from the state — but stopped short of introducing fresh restrictions on out-of-state visitors.

Covid cases are at a record high, with close to 5,000 new cases reported in the past week.

“We know that it is not a good time to travel to the islands,” said Ige. “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.”

5. Venice is employing armed guards to deal with crowded ferries

Canalside houses on Burano island in Venice Lagoon.

Canalside houses on Burano island in Venice Lagoon.

Tiziana Fabi/AFP/Getty Images

The tourists have returned to Venice, with up to 80,000 visitors a day pouring into the city of 50,000 inhabitants, according to local media.

The long lines — and tensions in them — have become such an issue that this summer, armed guards have been brought in to control the crowds,
(CNN) — Hawaii Gov. David Ige asked tourists to voluntarily stay away from the state amid a record surge in Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations, though he stopped short of placing onerous restrictions on out-of-state visitors.

“We know that it is not a good time to travel to the islands,” Ige, a Democrat, said Monday. “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.”

He said tourism is hampered by a return of some Covid health restrictions, along with a shortage of rental cars. “There will be limited access to restaurants and other places to eat,” he said.

The governor’s request came on the same day Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi announced that the county would suspend all large gatherings for four weeks, including conventions and concerts. Indoor gatherings are limited to 10 people and outdoor gatherings to 25 people, and restaurants are limited to 50% capacity, according to an emergency health order.
“Covid-19 cases are up dramatically, and our healthcare workers are being pushed beyond their limits,” Blangiardi tweeted Monday.

Spurred by the highly transmissible Delta variant, Hawaii is in the midst of a surge in new Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations that has surpassed any previous point in the pandemic.

The state has averaged about 700 new cases per day over the last week, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, a total 10 times higher than in early July. In particular, Covid hospitalizations have doubled in the last two weeks, according to data from US Health and Human Services.

Still, Covid-19 deaths remain remarkably low, a likely consequence of the state’s above-average vaccination rate; about 66% of adults in Hawaii are fully vaccinated.
Throughout the pandemic, Hawaii has had some of the strictest measures in the US in place and required all visitors to either quarantine for 10 days or present a negative Covid test upon arrival. Early last month, the state began to allow fully vaccinated visitors to bypass those restrictions.

The restrictions had sharply limited new Covid-19 cases for much of the past year but had a brutal economic impact on a state so heavily reliant on tourism.

As of July, Hawaii had a seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 7.3%, sixth worst among all states, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Further, Hawaii had the highest unemployment rate of any state when looking at the most broadly defined category of unemployment, known as U-6, which includes discouraged workers and people forced to work part time because full time work is not available.

Gov. Ige acknowledged these issues but still asked visitors not to come to better protect hospitals from being overwhelmed.

“Certainly, our call to reduce travel to the islands to only central businesses will have an impact on the numbers who come here, but I also would like to point out that our hospitals are at capacity, our ICUs are full. We are working on surge plans

Hawaii’s governor this week made a blunt plea to tourists planning trips to his state in coming weeks: Stay away from the islands now and visit later

That leaves would-be travelers reconsidering their vacations, with some questioning the ethical implications of going anyway, despite rising Covid-19 cases. Many are also contending with nonrefundable bookings, which can make canceling harder to stomach.

Gov. David Ige said Monday that “now is not the time to visit the islands,” noting that hospitals are reaching capacity and intensive-care units are filling up.

The state has averaged about 720 new cases a day over the past week, up from a daily average near 50 around July 1, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

After shutting down to tourists earlier in the pandemic, Hawaii has seen a surge in visitors this summer as many airlines added nonstop routes there. The recent rebound has nearly matched record visitation levels in 2019, when more than 10 million people traveled to the state before the public-health crisis hit the U.S. Last month, hotel occupancy was just 1% lower in Maui County than in July 2019, and levels across the islands were only about 3% short of that period’s, according to data from the Hawaii Tourism Authority.

Hawaii was the summer poster child of what a U.S. travel rebound could look like, but now it’s quickly turning into what could be a nightmare fall.

As Hawaii’s Lieutenant Governor Josh Green explained to Yahoo Finance Thursday, a 14-fold spike in COVID-19 infections since July and a surge in hospitalizations has led the Aloha state to “hit the pause button on travel to Hawaii until October.”

“As a physician, I’m seeing the impact on our hospitals. Our hospitals are now full in the state of Hawaii because we’ve had a large surge since July 4,” Green said. “And when I say full, I mean so full with COVID patients that we don’t have any access to transfer other patients, like heart attack patients and stroke patients that I see in the hospital, because we don’t have ICU beds.”

Hawaii’s huge step backwards is particularly surprising given how stringent testing requirements for travelers basically eradicated COVID on the island earlier this year. It’s also surprising given Hawaii’s vaccination status. About 66% of Hawaii’s adult population is fully vaccinated, and a nation-leading 87% of its adult population has received at least one dose.

The state only recorded about 50 cases a day in July, when the state opted to lift its requirement for U.S. travelers to show a negative test before traveling to the islands as long as they were vaccinated. But now, as the state averages more than 700 daily cases, Green explains federal travel guidelines are complicating a return to stricter controls at the state level. 

“We now have to wrestle with the fact that the CDC and the FDA have given us formal recommendations that people can travel safely if they are fully vaccinated. That creates some legal challenges,” he said. “I will say this, there is still a concern that people will catch and spread the Delta variant even if they are fully vaccinated.”

As such, Gov. David Ige (D, Hawaii) stopped short of either requiring testing for travelers or officially restricting travel from other states, however, Green did note renewed capacity restraints on the island could force travelers to reconsider. Earlier in August, for example, the state limited indoor capacity in restaurants, bars, and gyms to 50%.

“It will be a little more difficult to get a restaurant reservation. No one is allowed to gather indoors with groups larger than 10, or outdoors in groups larger than 25. That means that a lot of the activities that people tend to do in Hawaii are severely restricted,” Green said.

Some on the island, including billionaire Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, have criticized the restrictions for not going far enough. But for a state that suffered the largest spike in unemployment as its tourist-dependent economy saw a nearly 100% reduction in travel, the latest wave has become particularly complicated as small business owners were just starting to recover. 

“With the lowest mortality rate in the pandemic, I think Mr. Benioff should be applauding that,” Green said.

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – Health experts have previously warned Hawaii residents against traveling to areas of high COVID risk like Las Vegas, Florida and Texas.

Now a prominent emergency physician in Los Angeles is telling travelers to stay away from Hawaii.

Dr. Michael Daignault is an emergency physician for a Los Angeles medical center and is a frequent expert featured on LA media outlets.

And here’s his advice to those interested in traveling to the islands right now:

“I would advise people to not go now. You have to be responsible. You have to consider that Hawaii is a national treasure and we need to preserve it and protect its people,” he told Hawaii News Now.

In a recent Instagram post, he said travelers who can’t postpone a trip should test before and afterwards regardless of vaccination status, get travel insurance that includes medical evacuation to the mainland, avoid large crowds and events, and avoid high-risk activities.

“I think Hawaii of all states is such a fragile situation.”

“I advise patients or family member or friends to not travel anywhere that has has a high surge of COVID cases,” he added.

The governor on Monday also asked visitors to postpone upcoming travel to Hawaii given the state’s surge in COVID infections and hospitalizations.

Travel experts say they don’t blame the tourism industry for the recent surge in COVID cases as health officials agree much of the spread is due to resident gatherings.

“From the very beginning, COVID in Hawaii has not been generated by visitors coming in,” said travel consultant Keith Vieira, of KV and Associates.

He says tourism demand is starting to cool partly because of people’s safety concerns.

Group travel has flattened. And Asian, Australian and Canadian travelers still aren’t coming to Hawaii in large numbers.

“I think to tell visitors not to come, all it will do is hurt our economy, put thousands of people back out of work and not solve the problem, but it feels good because we did something,” said Vieira.

“We’ve got to get on with our lives,” he added.

Both Daignault and Vieira say vaccine passes in restaurants, bars and events are a way to balance safety and the economy.

Copyright 2021 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.

Hawaii Gov. David Ige is urging tourists not to visit the popular destination through October due to a surge in COVID cases that has the state’s hospitals at capacity.

“It’s not a good time to travel to the islands,” he said at a news conference Monday.

Monday’s announcement does not mean travelers cannot visit Hawaii, as the state did not tighten its entry requirements. Since October, travelers have been able to visit by presenting a negative COVID test to bypass the state’s strict quarantine. In July, the testing requirement went away for vaccinated travelers.

There has been speculation the testing requirement would return due to the spike in COVID cases from the delta variant but Ige said that is difficult to do since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says domestic travel is safe for vaccinated travelers.

Ige said he has talked with airlines, hotels and other tourism businesses about spreading a message that this is not the time to visit Hawaii except for essential business. He said he asked them to “do what they could” to curtail tourism.

“I think it’s important that we reduce the number of visitors coming here to the islands,” he said in a separate interview Monday with the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. “Certainly, I expect cooperation from the visitor industry.”

Asked about the governor’s request to limit visitors, Hawaiian Airlines spokesperson Alex Da Silva released a statement late Monday.

“We are acutely aware of the stress on our health care system imposed by new COVID-19 cases, and our hearts go out to those affected,” he said.  “We continue to believe that the single most valuable measure to address this crisis is increasing the vaccination rate in our community, which is why we have announced our intent to require our employees to be vaccinated.”

Da Silva added: “The Safe Travels program, which is unprecedented in the nation, requires travelers to be vaccinated or tested to avoid quarantine and has been effective in managing the number of travel-related cases.”

The Hawaii Tourism Authority, the state agency in charge of promoting tourism, said visitor counts normally fall as summer vacation season ends but still encouraged travelers to delay any plans to visit Hawaii this fall.

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“Our community, residents and the visitor industry are responsible for working together to address this crisis,” John De Fries, the agency’s president and CEO said in a statement. “As such, we are strongly advising visitors that now is the not the right time to travel, and they should postpone their trips through the end of October.”

Ige acknowledged that some small tourism businesses are still struggling to recover from the pandemic and that telling visitors to stay home won’t help the tourism industry rebound. Hawaii effectively banned traditional vacations for months in 2020 by requiring a strict