VOICES: With restrictions, beautiful place becomes ‘combat zone’

I’m writing this to you to give you our story and just ask “why?”

In 1995 my son was stationed at Pearl Harbor with the U.S. Navy. We came to Honolulu and Kaua‘i and fell in love with your state.

The people, weather and beauty are breathtaking. We made plans with my brother to take one, last, big vacation because our traveling days are coming to an end with our age.

I promised him that he would see a piece of heaven on earth and would enjoy every moment of it.

I told him the only thing he would need his phone for was to take pictures. I told him how the local people spend time on surfboards, not video games. When the virus came, everyone was affected by it.

My wife and I both had the virus in November, and we had friends pass away from it. We take the virus very seriously, and try to do everything to stay safe. We thought long and hard about coming to Hawai‘i, and when my son said he was getting married in Honolulu we decided to go for it. We put a large amount of money down and we were going to make it a vacation of all vacations.

We had our son in Michigan help us get set up on your Safe Travels website, had vaccine shots, rapid tests done and we were good to go. We did make it to O‘ahu for three days. When we got to O‘ahu we found very few places to get the rapid tests, and things started to fall apart. Walgreens and places we knew about back home didn’t do rapid tests, and we spent hours trying to download our negative results on Safe Travels.

Our piece of heaven turned into a day of hell when we got to Kaua‘i. I never thought that I would see the U.S. military waiting for us when we got off the plane. Then they give you a choice of going back, three days locked down at some resort bubble or a 10-day lockdown.

I’m not writing this letter to ask for sympathy. Just the opposite. After my son’s wedding I will say “aloha” to Hawai‘i and return to Indiana. I might even contact my governor and thank him for using a little common sense during these difficult times. My sympathy is for you and the people of Hawai‘i.

My questions are these: How you can treat people the way you do and blame it on the virus? How can you turn such a beautiful place into a combat zone?

The mayor’s office went from a place that should help people to a dictatorship ruling people.

When we got off the plane you could see the intimidation. You had the military, you had to sign the agreement, you could choose a three-day private prison with a wrist band to be monitored or a 10-day house arrest, and if you didn’t go by all the rules, a punishment of $5,000 and a year in prison.

I never thought I would see this in the United States. Then there are the local people that you claim you are protecting. You took away from them a way to make a living and support a family.

You also took a basic freedom from your people, and that is the freedom to travel. I just have to ask “why?” And is treating people this way the only way to fight this virus? The Bible (Matthew 6:21) says, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

When Hawai‘i put their money into places to punish people for coming here and not help people when they get here, then that has got to tell you something.

You want to rule people and not help them. I must ask why Hawai‘i would not put their money into the health system and not into the criminal system.

If you had as many rapid-test sites as your lockdown prison sites you would be money ahead. Why don’t you give rapid tests before or after plane rides and let people out of quarantine when they prove they don’t have the virus. I ask again, why are you using the virus as a weapon against people?


David, Nancy and Robert Squires are residents of Michigan City, Indiana.

  1. Citizen Cane April 11, 2021 2:50 am Reply

    It sounds like someone told you, perhaps back where you live, that the pandemic was over. You were hoping for your seamless, dream vacation—in a time and a world that’s hardly seamless anywhere. Believe me, we’d all like to set the clock back to the well-oiled visitor-welcoming machine that Kauai was before March 2020. Before I lost my business of 22 years, and 4 excellent employees. There’s a lot of pain to go around here, but even I’m willing to prioritize the safety of others and believe the economy and aloha will only come back if we heal ourselves first. And that means following the precautions, getting vaccinated and remaining vigilant and compassionate. I wish the travel restrictions were handled better. i don’t understand why there haven’t been smart testing protocols coordinated with the travel industry that could have safely allowed lots of visitors in sooner. Nonetheless FYI in Porter County, IN where you live, there’ve been 308 deaths from the Covid pandemic. In neighboring Lake County—where I have family—968. In Kauai County, we’ve suffered a grand total of….1. It’s been a blessing to be safe.

    1. Hey April 11, 2021 11:17 am Reply

      It’s over.

    2. North Shore Dan April 11, 2021 2:45 pm Reply

      Great and thoughtful response.

    3. Don April 12, 2021 4:38 am Reply

      Not only have you lost your business and your employees, but it seems you also lost any trace of Aloha spirit. It’s going to be a very long recovery if so many Kauian’s harbor your isolationist attitude.

    4. North Shore Dan April 12, 2021 10:16 am Reply

      Thoughtful comments. Mahalo.

  2. james April 11, 2021 6:27 am Reply

    During time of war, sacrifices must be made for the common good within reason. Why your son chose to get married in the middle of a pandemic with difficult travel restrictions is beyond me. There is a reason Kauai has essentially escaped the madness of other places around the country and world and has been able to enjoy a somewhat normal lifestyle. We don’t want folks from the mainland bringing the virus over here. Why don’t our rules apply to you? Are you somehow special? If roles were reversed and a Kauaian tried to fly to Indiana, I’m sure they would abide by Indiana’s rules. People need to wait to come to Kauai.

  3. nobody April 11, 2021 7:35 am Reply

    Tough times in uncharted territory. I do agree about a second rapid test would be great but how do you get anyone to come back to do it? If you do it at the airport upon arrival isn’t it too soon after the first test to be effective? Better than nothing I guess.

    1. Shawn April 12, 2021 6:47 am Reply

      Everything this women wrote are a perfect example of why in a country as medically advanced as ours we have the second most deaths in the world. Selfish to the letter. Obviously someone who’s son plans a wedding on a far flung island in the middle of a pandemic has helped raise a family that think they are “special” and the rules don’t apply to them. Cudos to Kawakami and Kauai. Keep your people safe.

  4. Everythingisawesome April 11, 2021 7:44 am Reply

    David, Nancy and Robert. Welcome to Kauai. Only two time zones away, but almost a century behind.

    1. Cecil Lowell Travis April 12, 2021 10:32 am Reply

      Indiana is where you should stay. Your entitled status might work in Pence Land but resident’s safety is our Mayor’s priority.

    2. truth be known April 13, 2021 4:13 pm Reply

      Too bad Rod Stirling is no longer with us. I’m sure he could use your time zone observation as an appropriate episode title. This whole COVID scenario would make an excellent plot for The Twilight Zone. Keep sharing your thoughts with us. I, for one, appreciate your efforts.

  5. Two hulls one love April 11, 2021 8:35 am Reply

    Sorry for your frustration with the Safe Travels program. It’s brand new for Kauai and I’m not surprised at all that it was difficult to navigate. But no sympathy necessary!

    In my circle of friends and family, we’re grateful that our mayor led the community through the pandemic using science rather than bible verses. None of us got Covid and we got to spend most of the year enjoying this amazing island we *choose* to call home in the least restrictive tier, Tier 4. And now, we’re vaccinated! Free to travel again.

    I will point out that we were free to leave at any time. Quarantines were required upon return but hey, that’s part of being a good neighbor during a global pandemic. Anyone that didn’t want to follow the quarantine program or mask requirements was absolutely free to buy a one-way ticket to Florida or Indiana or wherever else.

    A week into the program and Kauai is already booming again. Cases are sure to rise, but those of us that took advantage of Kauai’s impressive vaccination program are feeling pretty good.

    Hope that the wedding made up for your negative experience on Kauai and that you can make it back sometime soon when we’ve reached herd immunity and don’t have to apply/enforce restrictions to protect our small community. That’s what we’re all looking forward to.

  6. Doug April 11, 2021 8:59 am Reply

    No, you don’t take the virus seriously from the tone of your letter. Everything you mention in your letter (the National Guard, bubble resorts, etc) has kept us safe, unlike Indiana. I love seeing the Guard rolling through my neighborhood checking on those supposed to be in Quarantine! I always give them a shaka! Having a large wedding during a pandemic is unforgivable. And finally, if you had done your research prior to coming you would have known what choices existed on Kauai for you once you landed and you could have simply not come if they were not acceptable. We are not your Disneyland, people actually live here, WE control our island and because of that fact after the short initial lock down we were at tier 4 and free to roam our island at will, unlike other places on the mainland.

  7. curious dog April 11, 2021 9:07 am Reply

    9 ICU beds. KI National Guard b/c we don’t have enough cops on the beat to control normal speeding let alone tourists trying to avoid testing requirements.

    Tests should have been way simpler. Hope your comments get to the right people.

  8. KauaiFarmMan April 11, 2021 9:33 am Reply

    Welcome to the police state. Fear has driven us into a dictatorship where our rights are being infringed by a not so deadly threat. This has made a mockery of our constitution. Our military had no place at our airports. Vaccine passports are a gross violation of our freedom. Open up everything! All you scared ducks can get your vaccine and let the rest of us live life as it was intended, free and without restrictions. The reality of this nonsense is our entire island will be consumed by tourism and locals will be pushed out because of lack of funds. This is modern colonialism and all of you are too foolish to realize this whole scamdemic has sealed our fate. There was no real threat. The only threat is loss of freedom. Watch and see. Kauai will look more like the mainland every passing year because of this economic collapse. Home prices have skyrocketed and we are turning into a total welfare state. Once the government money runs out we will all be clamoring to pay our bills. Way to go corrupt politicians and foolish citizens. End this medical tyranny!

  9. andrew April 11, 2021 10:08 am Reply

    HAAAA HA! TGI you are being funny, bringing some humor during these tough times. Bruh I was stumped for a second, then I get it – bringing some commenter from the MidWest who had covid and knows people who got it and then they mad that they got checked at the airport. LOL Yeah, like this is the kind of people that should be allowed to come and “spread” their da-kine. I’m starting to get it TGI!! LOL Thank you TGI for supporting Kauai!!!!

  10. Robin Clark April 11, 2021 12:06 pm Reply

    Squires family- let me try to understand your situation. You knew you needed a negative test to enter Kauai, yet you came to Kauai without one and expected special treatment? You are upset because our dedicated workers, including the national guard, are just doing their job to protect the island. Why did you not just go to Florida where the virus is not taken seriously? Certainly glad you are not asking for sympathy as I think that would be in short supply for you.

  11. Steve April 11, 2021 4:19 pm Reply

    The root problem in our country is not Clinton, Bush, Obama, or Trump. It is that we, collectively, don’t care enough about the truth of things.

    Kaua’i’s leadership didn’t spin the science, and faced head on the hard choices they were elected or appointed to make. They chose to recognize and acknowledge the gaping holes in the “Safe” Travels Program and put up extra precautions. They made the rules clear to anyone who cared to figure them out.

    A single preflight test is not enough. While it screens ~88% of the infectious on the day of travel, it only catches about 36% of those actually infected (not yet infectious) – with most of the undetected turning positive after arriving on the islands.

    Maui and Oahu made different choices and ignored the plentiful science that showed that the “Safe” Travels Program missed about 7 of 1,000, not the 1 of 1,000 initially promoted. Now they are in real trouble with cases in schools, variants established, and as many cases per capita as mainland cities.

    Kaua’i has had 1 covid related death, Indiana 13,148 so far. Kaua’i’s people suffered some serious hardship, but for their children especially they were kept safe.

  12. Mike April 11, 2021 5:46 pm Reply

    Squires Family,

    As far as I can tell from your post, your son in Michigan who helped you “get set up on the Safe Travels website” didn’t do all his homework and dropped the ball. Now you’re blaming Kauai and the political leadership of Kauai for that mistake. The rules are neither new nor confusing for anyone who takes the time to research. Sorry for the experience, but the rules are clear. There is a divide here, as everywhere, about trying to balance economic prosperity with public health. But to say that Kauai is using the “virus as a weapon against people”, whom it does depend on economically, is vitriolic hyperbole. And the comments from others about your priorities of traveling during a pandemic are worth some reflection on your part. There’s probably something in the book you quoted about not putting your own personal desires for pleasure above the health of other people.


  13. Couldn’t Agree More April 11, 2021 7:14 pm Reply

    You’re absolutely right! Please spread the word. Tell everyone you know. Tell your Governor. Post it on Facebook. Kauai is a war zone. Don’t go there! They will greet you with the powerful might of the US military, and they want to put you in jail. Go to Florida, which will welcome you with a warm hug and sunny smile. Don’t ever pleasure Kauai with you tourist dollars again.

  14. del Lafountain April 12, 2021 6:45 am Reply

    You should of looked at the travel protocols before traveling. Its no secret what is required and you choosing to come unprepared is your own fault.

  15. Tired of the quarantine April 12, 2021 6:50 am Reply

    I agree, we are the ONLY state that is doing a mandatory quarantine, which is completely unconstitutional, they are infringing upon our rights and we are acting as though it is for our “safety” people need to live, go to work, to school, we cannot keep sacrificing our society and economy for the fear that we might get a virus, it is up to the individual to protect themselves. Meanwhile the government is benefitting from this while we the people are paying the price

  16. Mr.Ford April 12, 2021 7:16 am Reply

    No, in mainland the governors of the states are threatening with lock down again while, the self-educated know this is properganda. Than you have fake life social media scrubbing everyone who calling out this properganda.

    1. M Pinot April 12, 2021 2:24 pm Reply

      Big words are hard for the uneducated.

  17. David Presley April 12, 2021 8:35 am Reply

    The population of Kauai County is 72,000. There has been 1 Covid death. That’s 1:72000.
    The population of LaPorte County is 110,000. There has been 209 Covid deaths. That’s 1:526. I’m sure that your elected officials have done all they could do to save the lives of those precious businesses. Great job. If our elected officials had done what the wise leaders of your county had done, we would have 135 more dead citizens. Do you want to pick with 135 of us that would be in the ground so that you don’t have to be inconvenienced by a simple test? A test, buy the way, that I take every week as I travel to Oahu for work. Every single week, not one problem.

    1. Doug April 12, 2021 9:20 pm Reply

      Good for you David! Mahalo!

    2. truth be known April 13, 2021 3:56 pm Reply

      David, perhaps you haven’t seen the news lately, but the CDC is now admitting that the death rates supposedly due to COVID are highly exaggerated, and include heart attacks, end of life scenarios, strokes and everything else the medical establishment can throw in there to get their payments from the government. Check out the drug Ivermectin, the one the rest of the world is using to kill COVID virus. You won’t find it advertised here because it’s only 2 cents a tablet taken once every 2 weeks. Well, it’s actually $2.00 a tablet here in the USA. The rest of the world gets it for 2 cents. Big Pharma has a license to steal in our country thanks to our useless politicians. As for your weekly test for COVID, a years worth of tests amounts to $7,800.00 according to my calculation. That’s a lot of money spent on testing for a disease with a 99% survival rate. It’s your money though. Glad you can afford it.

      1. David Presley April 14, 2021 5:05 pm Reply

        Truth be known,
        I appreciate and respect your right of free speech. However, like our founding fathers, if you feel the need to say something have the courage to sign your name to it.

        1. truth be known April 16, 2021 7:09 pm Reply

          David, some of us actually have an opinion that goes against the status quo. Ask yourself how many associates of Bill and Hilary Clinton have either mysteriously disappeared or supposedly committed suicide for having the audacity to say something counter to their wishes. Do you have any opinions that run counter to the established norm? If so, please feel free to share them with us.

  18. Lee April 12, 2021 10:35 am Reply

    Contrary to the letter writer, we found everyone extremely helpful, including the National Guard at the Lihue Airport. We had done extensive due diligence and knew what to expect. We chose to quarantine at a bubble resort, which in itself was a non event. We were thankful for the Mayor and residents in creating a safe environment where COVID was almost non existent. This was in sharp contrast to the state of Michigan, which is our permanent home.
    Yes it was a challenge to get our 72 hour pretest, but well worth the hassle. Mahalo to our extended Kauai Ohana and all the others on the Garden Island..

  19. Bob Knight April 12, 2021 2:27 pm Reply

    It sounds like you were very embarrassed by your mistake and you indignantly wrote a letter to save face among your family. Hope that worked out for you.

  20. LTEreader April 13, 2021 10:07 am Reply

    It astounds me that people travel here during what is still a pandemic KNOWING what’s expected of them, then complain in our newspaper about what’s expected of them! SMH. After reading letters from these whiners for a year it’s getting old. We’re very fortunate that COVID has been under control here, so far. The variants are spreading quickly around the world, so as much as we’d like it to be > this is not over just yet.

    *Mahalo ‘Lee’ for your positive words from a visitors perspective!

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