County hoping for late spring reopening

LIHU‘E — The county doesn’t want to miss out on summer tourism because it’s not participating in the state’s Safe Travels program, County of Kaua‘i Managing Director Michael Dahilig explained Wednesday.

“The late spring target is a goal that we are trying to meet with respect that we ensure there are safety nets,” Dahilig said.

Yesterday, Dahilig joined the Kaua‘i County Council for a briefing on the county’s current status of COVID-19 travel restrictions. upcoming COVID-19 initiatives and updates.

Last week, Mayor Derek Kawakami penned an opinion piece for The Garden Island first mentioned a late spring reopening.

“Thanks to your collective efforts this past year, we are in a good place to work with our community partners toward adding the state’s Safe Travels program for mainland arrivals in the late spring — provided case counts in our island, state, and across the nation remain stable,” Kawakami wrote. “By this time, we anticipate all food service and hospitality industry workers on Kaua‘i to be eligible for vaccines.”

With current low case counts, the county’s been able to focus on vaccination efforts, Dahilig said.

To date, over 22,000 doses of the vaccine have been distributed on the island, Kawakami said Wednesday in a COVID-19 briefing update. Dahilig explained that’s about 18% of the eligible population.

In the past, Kawakami has expressed support for exemptions for those who are fully vaccinated should the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Health come out with support for those measures.

“We’re not trying to have more regulation, but have more voluntary, community-minded compliance rather than mandates,” Dahilig said.

Dahilig, noting that while other sectors of the economy have seen spikes like real estate and construction, did acknowledge the detrimental effects on the tourism and small business industry.

“We have heard the calls, and a lot of them have been very, very vibrant and loud when it comes to a desire to want to return to Safe Travels,” Dahilig said. “The ease of travel will help buoy that sector of the economy.”

According to the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority, on Feb. 23, 8,394 people flew into the state. About 4,540 arrived on O‘ahu, 2,505 arrived on Maui and 1,243 arrived on Hawai‘i Island. Only 106 arrived in Lihu‘e.

This past month, most days, the county saw anywhere between 56 and 203 out-of-state passengers flying into Lihu‘e.

Dahilig said the work with community partners and those in the tourism and resort industry will continue to work on a date to ask Gov. David Ige for the county to be reinstated to Safe Travels, the state’s program that allows travelers to bypass a 10-day quarantine with a negative COVID-19 test.

At this time, the County of Kaua‘i participates in the program for inter-island travelers for those who have been in the state for at least 72 hours, but suspended participation to trans-Pacific travel in the hopes to keep infection rates low.

In January, the county did provide an alternative to the 10-day quarantine: a three-day quarantine at an Enhance Quarantine Movement Resort Bubble with post-arrival test. Since opening this program, Dahilig said participating resorts have changed business models and built the shortened quarantine into the experience.

“We are in a better place now than back in October and November,” Dahilig said.

To date, the county has spent over $30 million in federal and direct county resources and has activated over 370 personnel across the county, DOH and Hawai‘i National Guard since March 4, 2020, when Kawakami signed an emergency proclamation for the pandemic.

Dahlig stopped short of saying the county is in a stage of recovery, but is more so in a state of planning.

“What we’re seeing at this point is preparation to be able to layout a plan.”

34 Comments
  1. Mark Spencer February 25, 2021 1:35 am Reply

    Wow, what did you guys get for the 30 million? Mike takes double speak to a whole new level. Always about feeling small business pain. Never about concrete solutions. 30 million spent on what, keeping the little vender alive? Nope. Every day Kauai stays shut down costs Kauai millions. 1year and counting and all you hear from those in charge is, maybe one day we might consider thinking about the possibility of perhaps talking about sort of reopening Kauai for tourism, if we feel like it. Business goes where it’s wanted stays where it’s appreciated. You have a God given right to feed and protect your selves and your families. Stand together be strong demand Kauai’s right to succeed. You are wonderful people, your home is beautiful place. Kauai must open up for business now.


  2. Kauai Guy February 25, 2021 6:35 am Reply

    Why not just shut down the island til 2022? You’ve already crippled the economy and killed people’s lively hood.
    You’re only planning now? What a joke


  3. Tom February 25, 2021 7:01 am Reply

    30mln spent on what?
    No added medical infrastructure.
    Schools still not fully open.
    1 year later and they are preparing to plan.
    18% has some form of protection against the virus with the vaccine.
    Plunging infection rates state wide, country wide and world wide.
    Why are we not open?


  4. Christo Navarre February 25, 2021 7:51 am Reply

    I appreciate that Mayor Derek is continuing his planning for opening Kauai to tourism from the mainland. What all travelers need is a date for that opening or at least a statement from him as to when it will not happen. Late Spring is way too ambiguous for anyone who is planning on traveling or in my case has reservations in place to travel in April.

    Since I am not able to travel to Kauai under Mayor Derek’s current directives I would like to know if that will be the case in April as well. I will eagerly spend my vacation dollars elsewhere.


    1. Jamie Rainbow February 25, 2021 3:45 pm Reply

      Your deep care and compassion for the well being and safety of the people of Kauai is duly noted. I think if they could vote on it they would free you to vacation some where else. I have a trip planed to Kauai as soon as I am vaccinated, which oddly enough is also vague and sometime in the late spring.


      1. Sassy February 27, 2021 5:15 am Reply

        The residents and business owners want Kauai open for tourism. Our lives and families have been completely destroyed by our island being shut down.


  5. Doug February 25, 2021 8:59 am Reply

    Mayor Derek’s plan is clearly stated above, he wants everyone, including workers who have to deal with infected tourists, vaccinated prior to opening so we don’t go through what Maui and Lanai went through. And that doesn’t mean skipping seniors in favor of hotel workers. I would be okay with getting all the seniors vaccinated and then opening and letting all these people that are hot to open take their chances, but we, as a state, can’t even get that done.


  6. Aloha808 February 25, 2021 9:24 am Reply

    Finally! Someone in the County is speaking unambiguously about tourism and Safe Travels, and recognizing that Kauai cannot afford to miss out on another summer of tourism, when our case counts are so low and vaccinations are rolling out. No more excuses for keeping this place shut down. And no more facetious comments from our leaders telling the press that Kauai is already open (to activities, youth sports). We are certainly NOT open to travel and that is the only way that “open” should be interpreted.


    1. Everythingisawesome February 25, 2021 6:06 pm Reply

      Slightly more open than Guantanamo.


  7. Kauaidoug February 25, 2021 10:08 am Reply

    The reason the mayor puts no date is because the virus and spread and how the population ON the mainland is doing is what drives reopening. Thank goodness. I would guess he doesn’t want to give a date and then just say the new variants take hold and we have a 4th wave inundating the mainland in just a few weeks. The virus and infection rates determine the opening, not the well meaning demands of affected business people, of whom I am one. We are getting close. We are almost there. I don’t know but I would hope we can open up before everyone is vaccinated.
    I say get us to herd immunity levels pronto for the best result then let’s welcome the world once again in a manner that we dictate not the almighty dollar.


    1. Dugout February 25, 2021 5:09 pm Reply

      Everyone knows hospitalizations and deaths are dramatically down across the nation. We waited for These vaccines. We have them. People are getting them. Ok great. Next step set a date so businesses can start taking reservations and staff accordingly.


    2. Reality Bites February 26, 2021 3:37 am Reply

      The goalposts just keep moving. “We are almost there”???????? SMH. What is the goal???

      When everyone is vaccinated? Over a third of the country, right now, has no plans on taking it.

      When there are zero deaths or zero positives?? Never going to happen.

      Stop the madness! 50K-60K die a year from the flu and pneumonia, and yet less than half get the vaccine. Somehow the economy continues and people can walk around without masks.


  8. Dana G February 25, 2021 11:20 am Reply

    Spring break is coming up. Easter is 4/4. I sure would like to see my grandkids. Could they travel with a negative Covid test even if they were limited to access only open beach area as well as my home? I tried the resort bubble but its a bit of a joke. As well as the room charges and restaurant food for three days there is an inflated Covid test charge of $150 for the second test and $100 for the security bracelet. It would cost over $2500 at the cheapest hotel and $6000 at others in addition to normal plane fare to put them in this 3 day program. What about a program for documented vaccinated travelers?

    I have very much appreciated the care this island has taken with Covid. I think from what I read that we could have all front line workers and 65+ offered vaccines sooner than late Spring if we try. At that point we should go ahead with travel programs that offer some safety even if they are not 100% safe.


    1. Everythingisawesome February 25, 2021 6:03 pm Reply

      Dana, I have quarantined at least once in the past year. I know it doesn’t make sense, but quarantining with family isn’t against the rules.


      1. Jo B February 26, 2021 8:44 am Reply

        Quarantining for 10 days in a family members home doesn’t make sense or go along with the science. You do NOT need to take a test if you are planning to be in quarantine. You can come over full of Covid and not have symptoms for a week, stay with your family INSIDE for 10 days but in the meantime your family in that same house can come and go to work and school, play at the beach with 25 other people and shop at Costco or Safeway and now they are infected and spreading it around. The last 2 cases were residents I want to remind everyone. Someone said Hawaii is watching the other states especially CA! CA is opening. Even Santa Clara County which had the highest cases 2 months is opening inside dining and movies. Hospitalizations are way down and CA is already well into vaccinating 65 and older. Healthcare workers are done, essential workers are done, teachers are getting the vaccine right now and J and J was just approved. I agree to get the Kapuna vaccinated. Get the essential workers vaccinated in early March and open up the island by the middle of April unless you want the entire island to look like Anini and Lydgate Beach Park.


  9. Koloa Girl February 25, 2021 11:59 am Reply

    If you’re going to open up a date is needed that everyone can count on and can we make the date one that Derek won’t change……again? Do you County people understand that jerking people around has put you all in a position that people don’t trust what you say? I’d also really, really like to know why NONE of the County workers, including Derek, have not taken a pay cut all this time. Easy to make rules and ruin peoples lives with your on again off again policies when you are making enough money to live on. How about all of you, including our Mayor, taking a retroactive pay cut and donate that to the Kauai Food Bank?


    1. Local Kauai Resident February 25, 2021 9:45 pm Reply

      exactly! Everyone/businesses making cuts but what about county? Not all county workers/positions are essential.


  10. John Moser February 25, 2021 12:45 pm Reply

    We will be visiting Kauai next February for certain. Month long stay. Accommodations already booked.

    That said we want to come now. We both have been vaccinated. Next month, as Kauai has not set any dates, or regulations, we will visit Maui and the Island of Hawaii. I have read several places that the “bubble resort system” was not too bad. The number of those currently traveling to Kauai tell a different story and I agree.

    Talking about a more full reopening is nothing more than talk right now. My heart is breaking for the sufferng locals and businesses. We will be generous next year.

    Much love
    Mahalo


  11. I saw a Vampire once February 25, 2021 2:06 pm Reply

    Wow. This is some news. Only 106 people arrived on Kaua’i. That is saying no hotels are at full staff and open for business. In 2016, the tourist count for the year was 8.9 million. This is way less than the year 2016. Only 106 for Kaua’i arrivals. You’re looking at bankruptcy. And I mean for any hotel on Kaua’i. Hawai’i is a tourist based economy. And money comes by way of spending from tourist. Wow. Thank you for this news. I realize there are a lot of unemployed people. And don’t go reporting your neighbor because he didn’t pay all of his bills. Many people are this way. I mean they have agencies receiving complaints from all over Hawai’i, because so and so didn’t pay his insurance or bill. Big deal on that report. But thanks. This is good news for me. I can take notice from an agency stand point, how many are unemployed and how many people are reporting that cook or that bushelp, who never did pay his bills after he got let go. Thanks TGI for this news in economics. I’m going to be watching more of this kind of news in the coming months ahead. And at the agency, watching too how many residents will be complaining about others.


  12. OPEN KAUAI PLEASE February 25, 2021 3:05 pm Reply

    This is not logical at all.
    The number of cases on the mainland are significantly lower. People are getting vaccinated daily at a much higher rate. Kauai’s population is around 80,000 and 20,000 already vaccinated and they continue to vaccinate every day. Why aren’t we joining the safe travel program that is in place and working successfully for all other Hawaiian Islands and many other Island in the US. Business owners are suffering and they are not getting any help like many people who have been receiving unemployment benefits. This cannot continue. It is not human, it is no logical, it is unconstitutional and inconsiderate. Business owners are in the dark and their families are in big financial trouble. We need transparency!
    OPEN KAUAI ASAP!!!!


  13. Huh February 25, 2021 5:05 pm Reply

    Feel free to climb off that high horse of yours whenevas. This is where believing everything you’re told is a disservice to yourself and others. The logical side of opening up would have been to give a date. So that businesses, and travelers and returning residents can plan accordingly. I can’t tell my bank that I can pay off my loan payment sometime next month, or maybe late spring. This is government not some casual bbq you’re planning. C’mon man. Thanks


    1. Dt February 25, 2021 7:57 pm Reply

      Casual bbq… haha
      This guy has the only reasonable voice.


    2. Doug February 25, 2021 9:04 pm Reply

      If you recall, Ige kept giving dates, and had to keep moving them back until finally he re opened the state on October 15th. He was crucified each time he moved the date. The Mayor obviously learned from the Governor’s experience, hard dates do not work when you are dealing with Covid , the variants, and vaccine distribution.


      1. Dig February 26, 2021 11:45 am Reply

        I can also recall that all the other islands are recovering financially and also were not overwhelmed beyond capacity. It was your fearful leader Derrick covidkami who transparency has been about as informative as a potato.


        1. Doug February 27, 2021 7:39 am Reply

          Maybe you should visit the other islands then since you are so unhappy with OUR Mayor.


  14. Everythingisawesome February 25, 2021 5:56 pm Reply

    “In the past, Kawakami has expressed support for exemptions for those who are fully vaccinated”

    How about exemptions for those that have had thechinavirus? Science says those that have had it, and recovered, have the same, if not better, immunity, as those who have had the vaccine.


  15. Loladog February 25, 2021 6:45 pm Reply

    As a white mainlander, I find it highly offensive and stupid your comment “…white mainlanders who are happy to see the mostly poor brown people of this island die for their leisure.”

    You put this nonsense in skin colored terms, which is generally called racism. No one is or should be happy to see anyone die.
    We should promote unity, peace, and love. Not racism.


  16. Peter February 25, 2021 7:21 pm Reply

    I am so sick of this Mayor. And all the people who support him. You believe that money isn’t important then give away half of your pay check to the people who don’t have one.


  17. After da kine February 25, 2021 9:44 pm Reply

    Just FYI anyone and everyone. “Late spring” is not a date or technically a time that exists on a calendar. In order for businesses to prepare for visitors, staff, food prep, there needs to be a date provided. “Late spring” is about as vague as “yea, we’ll get to it when we get to it” daligdig and kawakami are about as transparent as a black sock. These guys are jokes. Standard island time
    Style. Braddah Derrick KHS grad. Big save bag boy, to grove farm grooming to become mayor. lacking common sense of course. You don’t usually get that from a silver spoon.


  18. Reality Bites February 26, 2021 3:31 am Reply

    Try to see past Friday. The tourists are discovering new places around the planet to spend their hard earned dollars. The Caribbean is cheaper, the people don’t have a chip on their shoulder, and the weather and beaches are better. Mexico has been thriving during the Scamdemic.

    Do you have any empirical data to suggest they will ever come back?


  19. tunataxi February 26, 2021 4:52 pm Reply

    Good to hear we are almost out of this… I appreciate the mayor taking the heat and sticking to protocols keeping my friends and family protected from the virus.


  20. Go to February 26, 2021 5:27 pm Reply

    Go to CovidKami’s best friend and former campaign manager and place a bet on what date the Emperor of Kauai is gonna open his Kingdom.


  21. tootsie February 26, 2021 9:04 pm Reply

    Is the vaccine going to be the mark of the beast?


  22. Ko'okamisanhiligoat March 1, 2021 1:43 am Reply

    Do two clowns equal a fool? Not I said the failed lawyer cum county manager cum double talking bait n switch kine guy. Ask Hiligoat how many lawsuits the county has lost over his decisions then multiply that by his arrogance you’ll get the answer you seek.


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