Kaua‘i considers resort bubble

  • Contributed

    The AQUA wrist band device is being considered for hotels to use to keep track of their quarantined guests.

LIHU‘E — The County of Kaua‘i is moving forward with the resort-bubble plan, offering a collaboration with hotels, which includes the safety guidance, expectations and overall instructions of a geo-fencing-technology device that sets boundaries for guests confined to the property due to COVID-19 quarantine.

The resort bubble, which county and state officials have been discussing, would offer those travelers subject to quarantine an option to stay on an “enhanced movement quarantine” property — hotel properties that would make up the resort bubbles — so they aren’t confined just to their hotel rooms. It’s a staged approach to re-introducing visitors to the state in a way that helps to protect residents.

“When it comes to balancing our physical and economic health, we are stuck between a rock and a hard place,” said Mayor Derek Kawakami in a Thursday press release with Gov. David Ige. “The 14-day quarantine has helped to keep the virus at bay, but we also know it comes at a cost.”

Kawakami said while the county supports the governor’s decision to push back the pre-travel screening date beyond Sept. 1, they know they need to actively look at ways to help support the economy.

“From the beginning, we’ve talked about a staged approach to reopening,” said Kawakami. “At a certain point, we need to learn to coexist with the virus.”

He explained the resort bubble, also known as the enhanced movement quarantine, would give visitors “the ability to move about the property and enjoy the resort pool, restaurants, and other amenities while completing their quarantine.”

Kawakami said in order for the resort bubbles to work, many safety and security requirements must be met.

“We are open to working with resorts that are willing to meet these requirements, which are still being developed at this time,” said Kawakami. “But one requirement would be ensuring that those in quarantine are staying within the allowed area.”

The county is testing a geo-fencing-technology and electronic-quarantine option to monitor guest movements on the properties using a device called AQUA (Active Quarantine User Ally) by the company Hub Culture. It’s a wearable unit that tracks your location using GPS and BLE Bluetooth signaling.

“This is a concept that is still very much a work in progress and one that must be properly vetted, so we do not yet have an exact timeline on its potential implementation, “ said Kawakami. “While it’s also a much-more-restrictive model than a pre-travel screening, we feel it’s a concept worth exploring should we need to retreat to another option down the road.”

In the meantime, Kawakami said his team will continue to work with stakeholders­, including the Kaua‘i Visitors Bureau, resorts and Kaua‘i Police Department to help bring this concept to life.

“All that being said, we should remember that technology is not a replacement for human behavior, and we will continue to push our message about safe practices,” said Kawakami. “The success of resort bubbles will come down to protecting ourselves and the resort staff (their ability to keep their associates safe is key) and attracting the types of visitors who will willingly follow the rules in order to enjoy a safe vacation in Hawai‘i.”

One hotel, the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort &Spa in Po‘ipu, isn’t taking any chances.

General Manager Dan King said he attended a few meetings where the resort-bubble idea was discussed, but as of right now the Hyatt remains closed, and will not reopen until the 14-day quarantine is lifted.

Meanwhile, Ige announced in Thursday’s conference that he has signed a 12th emergency proclamation that extended the COVID-19 emergency period through Sept. 30 and leaves in place the 14-day, mandatory quarantine requirement for out-of-state travelers and the interisland travel quarantine only for travelers arriving from between the counties.

“We will continue to work on digitizing and refining the travel-screening process as well as developing enforceable, safe alternatives to self-quarantine,” said Ige.

The proclamation also mandates that all persons must wear masks in compliance with the county orders, rules and directives approved by the governor, and it extends the prohibition on evictions for non-payment of rent until Sept. 30.

On Thursday, the state Department of Health reported 230 new cases of COVID-19 on O‘ahu, five new cases on Hawai‘i Island, one new case on Maui and two new cases on Kaua‘i.

This brings Kaua‘i’s total number of active cases to five, and the cumulative total of cases to date is now 56.

The first new case is an adult male resident who was previously under quarantine as a close contact of an active Kaua‘i case. The second new case is also an adult male resident. The source of his infection remains under investigation, but there is no apparent travel link at this time.

All five active cases are in isolation. The DOH’s contact-tracing investigation is ongoing. All identified close contacts are directed to quarantine and offered a test.

None of the cases have required hospitalization.


Stephanie Shinno, features and community reporter, can be reached at 245-0424 or sshinno@thegardenisland.com.

  1. hutch August 21, 2020 12:18 am Reply

    The insanity continues. No one who has caught the virus is hospitalized, all are sent home to recover, and statistically very few get seriously sick around the world. Yet the economy is destroyed by the media hysteria surrounding it. Learn to co-exist, Mayor? A little late for that, now that so many small businesses have collapsed and will never come back. Thanks for your ‘courage’.

  2. Jake August 21, 2020 2:52 am Reply

    For the love of God…..how many people die each year, in Hawaii, due to the flu/pneumonia? …….about 500. That is each year. Where has this great concern for the living been all these years?????

    If you are going to quarantine for COVID-19, then be standardized, and start quarantining for the flu/pneumonia. Oh wait, this will bankrupt the State. We will have endless quarantines and wait for it………..no one is coming here for 2 weeks to remain at their hotel.

    95% of COVID “Related” deaths are over the age of 55. 64% of deaths are over the age of 75……not even working, and collecting Social Security. Put the working class back to work!

    Start working up a real industry for Hawaii and real quick. This state produces nothing. Tourism is the only industry since the fall of the Plantation days.

    What a total, typical Government, waste of time and money = “Resort Bubble”. SMH.

  3. Morris BacoM August 21, 2020 3:52 am Reply

    Absolutely ridiculous. Who in their right mind will spend thousands for a vacation in a semi-prison. If this is the best solution than give up trying. Today American Airlines announced it is suspending flights to 15 cities, this is the tip of the iceberg. Other airlines will follow, The FAA has already granted permission for route suspension to Kauai to American, United, SWA, and Alaska. All they have to do is give 30 day notice and there will be few flights to Kauai. The leadership in Kauai needs to realize that the tourism industry is likely dead for 2-3 years.

  4. J.D. August 21, 2020 4:51 am Reply

    People will not come to a resort-bubble. You are trying hard to ruin Kauai over a new flu strain.

  5. randy kansas August 21, 2020 5:10 am Reply

    hahahaha, good luck with that…

  6. Slowly Going Broke August 21, 2020 5:36 am Reply

    Mayor K. betting big that he can centrally command the island economy until the miracle vaccine makes everyone immune, and we can all go back to normal. Look at his actions and words. He is not ready to accept any other outcome.

  7. Uncleaina August 21, 2020 6:18 am Reply

    Snip. That’s the sound of someone cutting off their geofencing armband. Of course Kauai is on the forefront of technology- just look at quickly we brought Coco Palms back to life. I think we should trade our near-zero rate for some shiny beans and a goose with GPS. Glad to see Grand Hyatt with some sense. Explain how you gonna geofence Kalapaki where locals and bubble babies don’t mix. Or Hanalei. Or Poipu. You can’t fence the beaches off so it’s not really a win here for anyone. We need to do everything we can right now to keep the rates of community spread at basically zero – that HAS to be the priority – not getting a few million from the handful of people this would benefit.

  8. John August 21, 2020 8:06 am Reply

    This is hilarious. Most hotels need to operate at 60% capacity to be able to break even. If all the visitors are forced to stay within the confines of that specific property it does not really help the struggling local businesses and depend on tourist spending. The ONLY thing you should be working towards is rapid testing and allowing everything to re-open. You’ve let the fear of making a mistake affect your ability to use science to make educated decisions. We have covid completely under control on Kauai, yet we still have mandatory distance learning for our kids. Restrictions on local business. Doesn’t make sense. It would have been easier to protect the “at risk” then to continue this tyrannical imposition you are enforcing.

    1. Sharon Wilson August 22, 2020 10:11 pm Reply


  9. Sue August 21, 2020 8:47 am Reply

    Pandering to the airlines and the big hotels. That is all this is!

    A few locals will get some work out of this; those who work for the hotels, but the local businesses won’t get a dime since the tourists can’t leave the properties.

    The mainlanders will give covid to the hotel workers, who will then give it to their families, for what???

    What a joke!

  10. Doug August 21, 2020 9:18 am Reply

    Let’s start by testing the AQUA (Active Quarantine User Ally) on quarantining travelers right now to see if it works. Then we can move on to resort bubbles, although I don’t think that concept will work because visitors come here to go the beach and see the sights, not just hang at the hotel pool.

  11. Ohana August 21, 2020 9:31 am Reply

    How about simply having travelers be tested 48 hours before getting on a plane, and then in room quarantine after test results return from a second test as they arrive. That way locals can be assured that visitors are Covid free. There should be designated in room quarantine hotels while awaiting test results, else you are running risk a risk of having people that have been infected while traveling, or even from others at resort, going out into the community and spreading. With asymptomatic infected people being a huge problem spreading this virus, we need to be wise and safe. Look at Oahu, they had quarantine, and now it’s so much more spread there then anyone knows since asymptomatic people are still spreading it (calculated to be 30%) and people with mild symptoms still think they just have allergies or the flu. Be wise, we sacrificed a lot to stay safe. Keep hotel staff safe. Please.

    1. Robert August 22, 2020 10:07 am Reply

      There is absolutely no way people can get tested within 48 hours. It takes days unless you are a celebrity!

      1. Cynthia August 22, 2020 8:20 pm Reply

        Not true. I’m not a celeb and I got mine in 24 hours.

      2. Ohana August 24, 2020 10:46 am Reply

        Not true, In some places on mainland (like Miami) you can get result in 15 minutes.

  12. manawai August 21, 2020 9:41 am Reply

    The only reason this is being considered is due to the union and the politicians who pander to it. It’s about votes; not safety.

  13. Sherri Mudd August 21, 2020 11:19 am Reply

    The bubble idea is just silly. No one needs to be vacationing during a pandemic. The resort must be staffed to accommodate this ridiculous idea or will all staff be quarantined at the resort also? The staff will possibly bring covid into the community at large.
    JUST SAY NO. The Hyatt is doing the right thing.

  14. Everythingisawesome August 21, 2020 11:36 am Reply

    Seems foolproof, and comfortable! Coming to a white wrist near you. Destined to be a HUGE success.

    Remember, Kauai, this was Kawakami’s idea.

  15. What? August 21, 2020 1:19 pm Reply

    What !!! hotel or resort property wants to take on the liability of that disaster. Really simply how are they going to control someone just arriving in the “Bubble” not passing it to someone who is just leaving the “Bubble” or the workers that have to enter and leave every day. Really am I the only one who has thought this far ahead. Why are they against testing ? Please someone tell me

    1. Mickey September 12, 2020 6:24 pm Reply

      I agree completely!

  16. John August 21, 2020 3:13 pm Reply

    We love to visit the Island and are sad after 35 consecutive years not to be there this winter. I feel sorry for the businesses and families which count on the visitor spending for their lively hood.

    This geo tracking plan is awful. I’m not going to be monitored and tracked like a prisoner. I go for relaxation not to be interned at a resort compound.

  17. Nahoa August 21, 2020 3:22 pm Reply

    Resort Bubble, catching sounding, suggested as a way to protect the island from infection by individuals arriving with Covid because of our limited medical resources… But how do we keep those in the bubble from infecting each other and what about the workforce? How will their families be protected? If we only have 8 ICU beds and 18 ventilators, how will we have enough resources to care for sick visitors as well as those who live here?

  18. Frank August 21, 2020 3:56 pm Reply

    The resort bubble probably will not work too well for the private citizen going on vacation. Too restrictive. Too expensive. Too little to do for most resorts. Just not practical for Joe Visitor and his family
    But it will work fantastically for the business seminars and sales meetings, They book a couple hundred rooms, have all their food at banquets on the property, and bring in entertainment to their hotel.
    Being the exclusive island that can allow these meetings to take place, will win a lot of business.
    Focus on what this could be… a boon for the local economy for business group / meeting travel.
    Promote the idea of success…. get those travel agents working…… contact corporate travel services. Advertise the opportunity. Get them to make plans,
    This could be a very good thing for Kauai.

  19. overklok August 21, 2020 4:31 pm Reply

    This has to be the dumbest idea ever. Who is going to stay at Hale paʻahao?
    No tests for the visitors, they are free to spread it to the staff. No problems here!!! I bet the reservations are just piling up!!! Just open up or stay closed.

  20. regular guy August 21, 2020 4:58 pm Reply

    covid 19 is a load of doggy doodoo

  21. Jai August 21, 2020 4:58 pm Reply

    This bubble-idea is almost surely a path to failure and misery for many. The County and the State have a trail of evidence in either not seeing the signs or using faulty reasoning when safety concerns appear needing attention and affirmative action. This is another one of those times. Godspeed!

  22. JustTraveler August 21, 2020 6:10 pm Reply

    Good luck with such a “plan”. Right now everyone from US mainland can go to Cancun, Cozumel, Cabo, and several Caribbean destinations with no restrictions. Occupancy and prices are low because many folks are simply afraid to travel. Why come to Kauai and get locked within one resort?
    Now, if we are afraid of a community spread, a guest at a hotel could pass the virus to a local worker, and then to the rest of the island. Then the major would see a few more cases and order another lock down and end of the travel bubble. This is why hotels are not interested to pay for “geo tracking”.

  23. JustTraveler August 21, 2020 6:38 pm Reply

    Also, it is naive to think that once the quarantine is lifted the tourist will make a run for Kauai. Look at what happened to Cancun (https://www.mexicanist.com/l/cancun-hotels/). By the end of July the hotel occupancy only reached 21-25% but many of those folks were coming from other parts of Mexico. They said that the tourist recovery has been slow and that only half hotels were open. The article also said that in April and May alone they lost about 3 billion USD.
    Right now even Japan is having the second wave of Covid19. So the plans of getting rich tourists from Japan goes down to drain. Many older mainland folks in upper income brackets are simply afraid to travel/get on airplane and prefer staying in their comfortable homes. Who will come to Kauai then? Kids without jobs and students enrolled in on-line universities?
    Unfortunately this is the reality.

  24. JustTraveler August 21, 2020 6:47 pm Reply

    Frank: Good thinking about hosting business groups but right now the business travel and conventions/seminars all but stopped for the foreseeable future. None of the companies would risk of hosting a seminar and getting employees infected. It is all done through zoom and other online platforms saving tons of money to the travel departments. This December Oahu lost Pacifichem convention of about 15,000 participants (with 40% from Japan). Pacifichem was moved to 2021.

  25. edwin nagenast August 21, 2020 7:11 pm Reply

    We will build it and they will come.. or not. If they come some return to normalcy can begin. Those here that want no part of it just keep to yourselves and you will not be missed.

  26. jl August 21, 2020 7:35 pm Reply

    As people return to travel, many will prefer renting a house or condo to have some personal space and in-home dining options, not being in a crowded hotel and treated like animals. Why can’t Kauai just require all arriving on island to have negative test within 48-72 hours of arrival, and follow social distancing and wear masks, wash hands. This is a really sad situation and Kauai’s leadership needs to figure out and open up. The resort bubble idea is utterly ridiculous. How many wonderful establishments need to close before a sane way of opening is approved?

  27. WAVE August 21, 2020 9:46 pm Reply



  28. nobody August 22, 2020 5:42 am Reply

    How is this any different from getting on a cruise ship? What’s the plan for disbursing the mega cluster it will probably create? Barbed wire? Helicopter food drops?

    It’s always the unintended consequences. Makes you question any other great ideas people come up with, like replacing tourism with a “diversified economy”. I’m for a diversified economy, but let’s not kill tourism before it’s actually generating at least some income for residents.

  29. Sonny August 22, 2020 6:35 am Reply

    How will the quarantine get their food so they show up at the airport pass there test go to the hotel and not go to the store I don’t get it!

  30. John August 22, 2020 8:35 am Reply

    Derek Kawakami: “Hey guys, I have a great idea! Let’s close all the schools but open the hotels! Because what Kauai really needs is more tourist dollars and less educated citizens!”

  31. J.D. August 22, 2020 9:09 am Reply

    H1N1 was much worse. Children were dying. Why didn’t we quarantine, mask, lock down etc. then?

  32. Robert August 22, 2020 10:00 am Reply

    This is useless. I’ve worked on Kauai and been coming there for 12 years. My children have a food business for the last five years. This only supports hotels, not the Island people.

    Why on earth would someone come to Kauai and be relegated to a hotel property? I can do that anywhere. Wrong thought, Wrong decision. Politically motivated. Serves no practical purpose.!

  33. Kauaidoug August 22, 2020 10:12 am Reply

    I don’t think in anyway that someone paying, insert feeling entitled, for an expensive relaxing trip in their room and swimming pool while wearing a tracking bracelet will accept those conditions. “It ruins my tan line” I can hear as a popular refrain. Ain’t no way folks. The Grand Hyatt backed out? Of course. Anyone having anything to do with the GH knows that their clients poop don’t stink and the hotel knows their guests would never accept these restrictive measures. Ain’t no way!
    Mayor K is doing a great job considering the circumstances of being between a rock and a hard place. Don’t stop listening to science now, Mayor!

    1. Scientist August 22, 2020 8:30 pm Reply

      Mayor Kawakami, please start looking at the statistics and make decisions based on science. You are killing economy!!!! Have some empathy for the common man, we are not trust babies like you. Try living on a budget based on unemployment benefits.

      We are losing our jobs, businesses are dying, and your citizens are getting more desperate by the day.

      Open the economy now!!!!!

  34. Oops that wasn't a bubble August 22, 2020 10:35 am Reply

    I let a giant resort bubble go once at the Sheraton pool…. or so I thought : / It wasn’t exactly a bubble after all. The pool was in quarantine for 14 days. My bad.

  35. Aloha Forgotten August 22, 2020 12:51 pm Reply

    Politicians trying to regulate a business that they know absolutely nothing about.
    You can tell by this latest impractical and dumb idea.
    Having people tagged and confined to a resort is just nuts. Who wants to go on vacation, be confined and watched over by the police, and wear a geo tagging device so you can’t escape.
    Great, so all of the tourists, from all over the world, are locked in the same place, along with the local workers who must serve them. Is it arrogance that makes you think we are so special that people will put up with this just to come here? They have a lot of options, but maybe you don’t care. Once a few unhappy guests take their picture in Kauai, being confined and geo tagged, put it on social media, you can kiss future travelers goodbye. You will do more damage to tourism here, than you can imagine.
    FACT: There are many places on the mainland that people can get tested in 48-72 hrs.
    FACT: Tested people are safer to be around, than local people who aren’t tested, and in many cases aren’t even social distancing.
    FACT: Guest prefer to be in vacation rentals, where they can control their own space, and can physically isolate themselves from others.
    FACT: There are a lot of people who want to come here for several months, working remotely, and would happily quarantine and take a test to stay in a vacation rental with space.
    FACT: The State caters to the hotel lobby.
    FACT: Hawaii created their own dependency on tourism, and encouraged new businesses to open to support the tourism. Yet they allow commercial landlords such them dry.
    FACT: Hawaii has performed miserably by wasting time for the last 6 months. If tourism is your driving economic force that supports people with jobs and taxes, then act like it is important. The Governor, Lt. Governor, and Health Director are in open conflict.
    FACT: You have been talking for months about your contact tracing program, and then you get pissed off when the legislative branch comes to check on you. Shame on you.
    FACT: You are either lying, or incompetent. Neither is a good answer.
    FACT: You now have the dubious distinction of being in 1st place in the US for the growing rate of infection. Congratulations!

  36. rk669 August 22, 2020 1:05 pm Reply

    DUH! Which way dae went Hair on Fire Derike?

  37. jake August 22, 2020 3:49 pm Reply

    this is a disaster waiting to happen. What about the hotel/resort workers exposed to sick tourists. Will they be quarantining at the resorts, too? If not, why not?

  38. John Clayton August 23, 2020 1:09 pm Reply

    The only person living in a bubble is Derek Kawakami.

  39. Everythingisawesome August 23, 2020 6:20 pm Reply

    The CDC is finally addressing at least one logical inconsistency. If masks really work, there is no need for quarantines. Masks don’t work, by the way. The same number of people will still get this, mask or no mask. But I’ll call this a win, and one step closer to restoring sanity.

    Ige and Kawakami are followers, not leaders, so I still expect we will be the last state to remove our 14 day quarantine.


  40. Chris W. August 24, 2020 1:34 pm Reply

    It shouldn’t surprise anybody that racists like Trump and Kawakami are totally oblivious to their racism.

    For this insane idea to work, all the workers in the resort would need to dress in extreme protective gear like they were in a covid ward: triple masks, gowns, gloves, etc… otherwise they wouldn’t be able to leave the resort for fear of spreading haole diseases.

    It’s like when Kawakami called for the “Haole go home” protests a day after the governor made clear that the majority of infections were returning locals. If there were anything like an “Aloha Spirit” left in Hawaii, he would have said “stay here, don’t go back into the hot zone of infections”. But, no. Not how racists react when taking advantage of a pandemic to further their racist agenda.

  41. ikelani August 26, 2020 10:58 am Reply

    I’ve been trying to come to Kauai as I have a important business to take care of, but can’t cause the restrictions with Hawaii government as well as the mayor of Kauai keep on restricting flights to Kauai. So in the meantime my flight reservations keeps on getting cancelled and being pushed back to a later date. This has happened since July and still no availability to Kauai. You claim that the covid-19 cases are not from tourist, so why are you so apprehensive of opening up the island? You worry about 2-3 while here on the mainland we get like 1,000 cases daily, so what’s the big concern over a few confirmed new cases? While in the meantime so many people are suffering from unemployment and not knowing where their children’s next meal will come from. And what worst will happen when the rental assistance ends, then what will happen to us? Most people already depleted all their assets and soon to be losing their homes as well. Don’t you understand that we can’t survive much longer? Open up the economy already before our concerns won’t be about Covid-19, but financial chaos!!

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