PO‘IPU — Now is not the time, said Kaulana Poe Saturday morning as he helped a young sign-waver with her sign at the Po‘ipu Road roundabout.
Poe was among a group of nearly two dozen people who held a sign-waving campaign, masked against disease and expressing their disdain for visitors who are on the island as well as the government inaction in the face of COVID-19.
“This is about the blatant disregard visitors have for how serious this situation is,” Poe said. “The mayor put in the curfew and that’s OK, but the message with aloha to the visitors is ‘Thank you for coming, but not at this time.’”
The small group of sign-wavers distanced themselves in accordance with social-distancing guidelines and waved at the mixture of cars, some containing visitors, others with residents heading to work or errands. Still others honked their horns in support.
“This is not a single person doing his thing,” Poe said. “This is a group effort from residents. My sister Malia Chun posted it on social media, and this is what happened.”
Chun said the sign-waving campaign was not limited to Po‘ipu, but is spread out islandwide with sign-wavers at the Lihu‘e Airport at the Veterans Memorial Highway and Ahukini Road junction (just three people seen), the Kapa‘a Beach Park (no one was there), and at Hanalei School.
“It doesn’t seem like the leadership is doing enough about COVID-19,” Chun said. “I’m tired of seeing tourists put a burden on our resources when I go to the store to stock up. This is a matter of respect. A pandemic is not time to vacation.”
Other protesters chimed in about the disrespect visitors have, creating parking and traffic problems while parking at park facilities that are closed due to COVID-19, noting the illegal parking along the roadside leading to the first Waimea Canyon lookout and other popular visitor destinations like ‘Opaeka‘a Falls in Wailua.
A morning walker walking her dog along the sidewalk paused to watch the goings-on.
“I would go hold signs with them,” she said, pointing to a bag of doggie do discarded in the manicured grass. “We need to clean up our own house before we point fingers.”
Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or firstname.lastname@example.org.