LIHUE, Hawaii (AP) – More than 200 people gathered in Kauai to help reopen tourism on the island amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The group in front of Vidinha Stadium was mostly business owners on Wednesday, The Garden Island reported.
Participants said they wanted to raise concerns with county and state officials about the ongoing economic impact of tourism restrictions.
In Kauai, visitors are required to participate in Safe Travels Hawaii’s pre-travel testing program. Tourists staying at a county-approved resort can bypass the state-mandated 10-day quarantine with a negative coronavirus test, which is done after at least three days on the island.
Cynthia Keener shared the struggles she and her husband had experienced under travel restrictions while trying to run their Ohana Fishing Charters business.
“Like many in the business world, we had a thriving, growing business prior to COVID,” Keener said. “As a result of these guidelines, we’ve lost nearly 100% of our earnings and built mountains of debt from government loans just to hang on to.”
Keener said there was “no transparency” from Kauai County Council or the office of Kauai Mayor Derek Kawakami about future plans.
“Our families are severely affected by this current policy,” said Keener. “We need to know so that we can plan appropriately to move on with our lives and stop investing money in companies that may never return.”
David Stewart, who owns a landscaping company, agreed that the mayor’s administration should be more transparent. He said his company was making very little profit, but he still hoped to pass it on to his children.
“Keep me alive, don’t kill my dream. Don’t kill that, ”said Stewart.
Bernard Carvalho, a member of the county council, attended the rally and said officials were aware of the issues and had a plan under development, although he did not come up with a timetable.
Mark Perriello, President of the Kauai Chamber of Commerce, attended the event to encourage business owners to respond to a chamber survey on the impact of the county’s virus policies.
“We hope to really get a lot of votes in this poll so that we can better stand up for government officials,” said Perriello.
In most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as a fever and cough, which will improve in two to three weeks. Some – especially older adults and people with existing health problems – can experience more serious illnesses such as pneumonia and death.