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Kaua‘i residents reflect, consider reopening to transpacific travel

  • Contributed by Margaret Cadiente Hammond

    Sister Candice Hernandez with big sister Margaret Cadiente Hammond and baby Nola Mireya Hernandez

  • Contributed by Melina Obar

    At home, is Melina Obar with her daughter Miya Piano on their free time.

  • Stephanie Shinno / The Garden Island

    Kimberly Busch-French, owner of Kauai Art & Frame in Hanamaulu smiles in front of her sign.

  • Stephanie Shinno / The Garden Island

    Mike Odo and Kawika Jamieson hold up their instruments in front of the Kuhio Hwy.

LIHU‘E – Since Mayor Derek Kawakami signed the first emergency proclamation relating to COVID-19 on March 4, life has been different for business owners and residents on Kaua‘i.

And though Gov. David Ige’s August 1 plan to reopen the state to trans-Pacific travel could bring back some more business to the island, several residents recently echoed concerns already voiced about the safety of Hawai‘i residents when that happens.

At Scotty’s Music House in Lihu‘e, manager Kawika Jamieson said they’ve reduce hours of operation to four days a week, and with the unchanging flow of bills, he and his team are looking forward to the potential of welcoming more visitors to Kaua‘i in August, and to business bouncing back a bit.

“I think it’s a good thing, but (only) as long as we are safe,” Jamieson said. “Here on Kaua‘i, as a community, we have a good understanding of taking care of one another. (The important part is) getting people from the Mainland to understand that they got to take care of others too, it’s not a one way street.”

Jamieson said the music house has been more fortunate than other businesses in the community because they’re benefiting from a stay-at-home order side-effect — more people are picking up instruments as ways to pass the time while they’re social distancing.

“People (are coming) in to buy instruments. They are stuck at home or they have a lot of kids…the parents would say ‘Lets get you on a piano’ or ‘Lets get you playing the ukulele,’” said Jamieson.

At home, Jamieson said his family has become more tight-knit over the past few months of COVID-10 emergency orders, and he’s been learning new things, as well.

“I got into more (DIY) do it yourself projects just like everybody else, it helps me understand and appreciate things, “ said Jamieson, noting the best part of the past few months — apart from the Spam and Portuguese sausage he’s been putting away — has been spending more time with his wife and his ohana, while getting more creative.

“We are little bit more tighter with money, but we are a little bit more closer with our family and a little bit more connected to with our community,” said Jamieson.

Melina Obar, a mom and essential worker at North Shore General Store said the biggest change she’s seen since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic has been the use of face masks.

“The challenges I face are dealing with difficult people who weren’t happy with what was going on,” said Obar. “People who don’t want to deal with wearing a face mask or have a bad attitude at my work place.”

She continued: “I do get to spend more time at home, which means more time with baby and the island is not as busy as it was before the pandemic.”

Kimberly Busch-French, owner of Kauai Art &Frame in Hanam‘aulu said she’s seen Kaua‘i come together as a community in the past few months.

“I feel more a part of the Kaua‘i Community. We have a really good, strong Ohana here,” said Busch-French. “I feel that everybody has pitched in on a heart level to support each other in making it through this difficult time.”

Busch-French is hesitant to reopen the transpacific travel in August, and said she’d like to see more careful rules regarding testing and quarantine when the islands do reopen.

“Reopening. I think it’s a little scary because we worked so hard to do a good job with controlling the pandemic,” said Busch-French. “It’s frightening to think we might lose that progress because it’s really difficult to tell whether people are going to be spreading it or not. Maybe double test just-in-case and watch to see how our numbers do. You know we can’t afford to get overwhelmed, we are so small.”

With a loss of tourists, Busch-French has gotten creative by personalizing her service to her clients.

“We are on Yelp that’s it. We call people, do things by appointment and work with people over the phone,” said Busch-French.

While residents have mixed emotions on opening up the transpacific travel reopening in August, Margaret Hammond, a former resident that resides in Texas can’t wait for the quarantine rules to be lifted.

“I last visited my sister, two years ago. I hope they lift this quarantine up soon. I miss Kaua‘i and want to visit my sister who gave birth in May. I also want to see my nieces and nephews,” said Hammond.


Stephanie Shinno, features and community reporter, can be reached at 245-0424 or

  1. J.D. July 9, 2020 2:40 am Reply

    The virus is in Hawaii and will run it”s course. over 99% of the people that contract the virus have mild or no symptoms at all.

    1. jake July 9, 2020 7:33 pm Reply

      If that were the case, JD, hospitals would be using ventillators trying to keep people alive. You must have taken a math course from Trump.

    2. JudeB July 9, 2020 7:55 pm Reply

      Yeah, you sure know how to quote Donald Trump verbatim. Is that what goes for Aloha these days?

    3. D.A. July 10, 2020 2:42 am Reply

      You first.

  2. mina July 9, 2020 9:05 am Reply

    Ok, reopen our island to tourists. Start raking in those precious bucks and fleecing tourists with your $10 ice cream cones and $15 dollar hamburgers. Just don’t forget who you’re endangering those most with getting your wish. Your Kapuna…your aunties, uncles, grandmas, grandpas, elderly parents. More than likely if you are local, they are the ones putting a roof over your head, helping you pay your rent, watching your babies while you work, and making your lives manageable. They are the one’s whos lives you are risking with tourism. You’re going to encounter belligerent conservative mainlanders who REFUSE to mask up or follow quarantine. You’re going to start seeing people you hold dear to your hear suffocating from lung infections. You’re children are going to end up with life-long medical problems from this virus. You haven’t had this monster in your back yard yet. You haven’t seen the body bags piling up in hospital parking lots because they can’t keep up with the kill. So yeah…go ahead. Let this thing in so you can “profit.” Go ahead…show us who you really care about.

    1. Da Shadow July 9, 2020 4:03 pm Reply

      don’t believe the hype; you’ll be ok.
      also, we will all be able finally earn a living again. remember what that was like?

      1. Kauila July 10, 2020 2:48 am Reply

        Earn a living for two to four weeks, then become infected and die, or live with the death of others.

        Let’s also remember that this virus, though transmitted through the lungs, attacks the fine blood cells and can cause lasting ruin to multiple organs for those who survive the initial illness.

        Curb your ego and think of us all.

  3. Joe Public July 9, 2020 9:10 am Reply

    With the up-tick on the Mainland since they re-opened, it seems really logical that opening up the islands will also bring more COVID cases here and we really do not have the beds to handle 100’s of new cases a day like the mainland is experiencing.

  4. Elkcims July 9, 2020 1:53 pm Reply

    Would be nice to know more facts about hospitalization numbers by age groups, total ICU beds available. Last I read, the symptoms for most people are less than a bad flu. Kapuna or anyone with serious health conditions need to remain at home as much as possible. Hawaii will not survive without tourism and the US Govt simply can’t keep printing billions of $ nor can residents do without working. Testing before mainland departure and within days of arrival along with technology will likely be all we can do until and if a vaccine is available. We live with risk every day and we learn to manage it.

    1. Deersim July 10, 2020 2:44 am Reply

      Are you willing to work on the front line and bring that back to all your loved ones and friends… And their loved ones and friends… And theirs…

    2. ParadiseLost July 10, 2020 4:32 pm Reply

      It’s KUpuna. You must not be from around here…

  5. What? July 10, 2020 10:56 am Reply

    What part about pretesting do you not understand…. It doesn’t matter whether there are ten cases or a million on the mainland, you have to have a negative test before you get here. Why is that not enough for you germophobes? And why are they not testing inner island travelers if their that worried?

  6. James turnbout July 10, 2020 12:36 pm Reply

    As a first responder, I understand the concern. We live in Ca and travel frequently to kauai. For me, as bad as we want to come back, I won’t until the local culture is comfortable with it. We are very strict and cautious with covid being on the front lines but asking people to be comfortable with the risk is a bit over the top. I read this paper often to get a pulse on the opinions of the locals. It’s your home and I will always respect that. Much love from Ca!

  7. Mike Mahoney July 11, 2020 2:51 pm Reply

    I’m so happy about the virus because it’s finally let us be honest about what we think about tourists and mainlanders. Who uses “aloha” for real? It’s is become a word to pimp out our beauty and get the visitors to give us their money. We can finally go back to enjoying our island in peace. My dogs don’t have to told to be quiet at 2am when they like to bark. And I’m so sick of self-righteous tourists telling me how I’m breaking the rules and damaging da nature when driving my truck on the beach. It hasn’t leaked in years. And now I can hunt every day if I want without scaring those stupid hikers in their matching baseball caps. I hope we never see another outsider again. I got my family and I don’t need nothing else.

    1. Jamie T July 12, 2020 6:29 am Reply

      Man are you an ignorant. Just watch and see what happens to the economy of kauai without tourism. Clearly you did not graduate high school. Your island? It’s not your island, kauai is in the United States. Which makes it every Americans island. What makes you think it’s yours? You enjoy the blanket of freedom I provide with my service but say I can’t come back there. Try and stop me. Oh and go read a book, you should be embarrassed of your grammar. Your island, so sick of hearing the locals say that sh—. Every time I come there I have a negative experience with one of you idiots who think you own everything. You don’t, and yeah if your stupid dogs are barking at 2am, they should be told to be quiet, tourist or no tourist.

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