LIHU‘E — As governments figure out how to open without overwhelming the health care system, for Hawai‘i, it’s about finding a balance between reopening to a mass amount of travelers and keeping residents safe.
For about two-thirds of Hawai‘i residents surveyed in May, a slow reopening through the end of the year without the 14-day quarantine requirement is preferred.
The Bank of Hawai‘i Foundation released the study, “COVID-19 in Hawai‘i – Facts and Insights” which surveyed 1,096 participants statewide by phone and internet between May 14-22. The report gained to better understanding of residents “feelings, fears and financial hardships related to the virus.”
On the other hand, about 5% of those surveyed would like to see visitors come back immediately, and about 45% believed phasing businesses over the next month or two, as Mainland governments are trying currently, would be preferred.
While only 11% of the survey’s respondents worked directly in the tourism industry, the University of Hawai‘i Economic Research Organization (UHERO) reports that until tourism is reopened, non-tourism sectors will lag.
Talking of “the new normal” or “returning to normal” is underscored by tourism. Travel is expected to drop by 45% by the end of this year and not return to pre-pandemic numbers until 2024, according to a projection from the U.S. Travel Association.
Less than a majority of surveyed residents (44%) believed a realistic “return to normal” would occur in more than a year. Equally, however, people believed that either Hawai‘i life would return to normal within three months or never.
In June, UHERO forecasts that the state could lose more than 30,000 residents over the next two years as the state’s COVID-19 recovery trails the trajectory of the overall U.S. economy, according to the study.