With the way things are developing in Hawaii in terms of the COVID-19 Delta variant, even the most optimistic observer would have a hard time staying optimistic about the coming weeks and months.
New restrictions on restaurant capacity and gatherings were announced just last week, and unfortunately, unless there is a big face, it looks anything but inevitable that Aloha State will adopt more.
The ideas being discussed by heads of state, which include a “health card”, beach closures and perhaps even the return of tests before arrival, will affect both locals and travelers.
Here are the latest COVID-19 news coming from the islands:
The state is considering an “electronic health card”.
According to Civil Beat, the government-run system would “verify vaccine cards issued locally, nationally and internationally” and then issue an “electronic health card”. In theory, people would then have to present this passport to gain access to public spaces, gyms and maybe even public transportation, restaurants and other businesses.
A similar program was recently implemented by France, and discussions on a “vaccine passport” have also been held in other US cities.
Such a program in Hawaii would essentially eliminate all opportunities for unvaccinated individuals, even if it could trigger confidence among the vaccinated for things like eating out.
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Beach closures may occur.
The rise in cases on the Big Island is causing leaders to rethink the idea of beach closures to help stop the spread of the Delta variant.
Beach closures were implemented around the islands last year during the first phase of the pandemic. Although they prevented people from gathering, they were wildly unpopular with the locals for obvious reasons.
Last time, the rules were that you could not sit on the beach, but you could walk across it to get to the water. It is therefore understandable that the water was so crowded with surfers.
“As a health issue, I think we’re at the point where we need to consider action,” said Steve Bader, a link to the mayor. “Are we pausing, shutting down, our county facilities for a short time? … We’re a little bit at that point right now. ”
Another lockdown is not ruled out.
The last quote, while specifically referring to the Big Island and Hawaii County, could easily be applied to all the islands.
See what Hawaii’s Lieutenant Governor Josh Green had to say about it. Apart from being a lieutenant governor, he is also an emergency room doctor in Hilo.
He said ICUs are filling up around the state and had harsh words for those who have protested against the vaccine.
“I’m probably going to take care of them at the hospital with my colleagues because they’re going to catch COVID,” he said. “(T) snake very individuals condemn everyone in society to a much greater lockdown.”
Pre-arrival or intermediate test programs may return.
Clearly, locals are having a hard time dealing with the Delta variant, and a constant flow of tourists to the islands certainly cannot help.
If more restrictions are imposed on the local population, one would think that previous protections against tourism would have to be put back in place.
In this sense, a return to pre-arrival testing and / or reintroduction of inter-country testing would seem logical, and that is something Big Island officials have discussed.