Major Waikiki hotel temporarily closing amid virus outbreak

  • House Speaker Scott Saiki, at podium in center, speaks to reporters while flanked by representatives and senators at the Hawaii State Capitol on Monday, March 16, 2020. Hawaii lawmakers are indefinitely suspending the current state legislative session to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus. (AP Photo/Audrey McAvoy)

HONOLULU — One of Waikiki’s largest hotels said Friday that it will close for at least the next few weeks in response to the coronavirus.

The Hale Koa Hotel is an 818-room hotel run by the U.S. military for service members, veterans and their families. It occupies 72 acres of prime beachfront in Waikiki, the center of tourism in Hawaii.

“It is now apparent that this crisis requires collective action to slow its progression in the United States. Guests will be asked to return to their home station as soon as they can make the necessary travel arrangements,” the hotel said in a statement on its website.

There have been no reported cases of the disease at the hotel. It is waiving cancellation and early departure fees. It’s continuing to accept reservations for dates after April 15 but said it will make a determination on reopening when it’s safe for guests and staff.

Gov. David Ige has asked travelers to postpone their vacations for the next 30 days as the state tries to slow the spread of the virus. To date, 26 people in Hawaii have tested positive for the disease. All had either traveled out of state or had close contact with someone who did.

Other state leaders, including House Speaker Scott Saiki, Lt. Gov. Josh Green and a Senate special committee on the virus, have called on Ige to take a tougher stance, saying he should impose a two-week quarantine on arriving passengers.

Saiki also called for “an immediate statewide shutdown” for the next 15 days.

Ige has directed bars and clubs to close and for restaurants to only serve takeout or delivery meals. State and county officials have closed parks.

Other states, including California, New York and Illinois, have ordered people to stay at home except to get essentials.

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