Governor Empowers Counties to Explore Resort Bubbles

August 20, 2020, 5:37 PM HST (Updated August 20, 2020, 5:37 PM)
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Mauna Lani, Auberge Resorts Collection

Gov. David Ige today signed a 12th supplementary emergency proclamation that empowers the counties to establish resort bubbles as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

Those travelers participating would be required to stay in clearly defined geographical areas and ensure limited contact with those not subject to self-quarantine.

“This would allow them to quarantine while also enjoying resort amenities,” Ige said during Thursday’s press conference.

Kauai County Mayor Derek S.K. Kawakami and Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino have already been proactively looking into the concept.

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“We’re still in the research and development phase,” Kawakami said, adding the technology they’ve been looking at shows promise.

Kawakami is currently looking at a wristband that acts as a tracker. If the traveler took it off or went outside the boundaries, the hotel would be notified. The mayor said the resorts would have to opt in to this program and provide the security, education and technology needed to create the bubble.

“We’re trying to create systems to mitigate as much risk as possible,” Kawkamai said.

Kawakami explained that resorts would need to have the ability to isolate guests who do become sick and quarantine close contacts.

Stephanie Donoho with the Kohala Coast Resort Association said there are no resorts on the Big Island looking to be part of resort bubble at this time, however, they are having regular conversations about.

“It’s good conversation, but it’s not actionable,” Donoho said. “We’re all learning something brand new every day.”

Resorts, Donoho explained, aren’t set up as stand-alone hotels. There are the beaches, the shopping

Donoho said they were anxious to watch Maui work through the potential bubble with a production company coming to the island to shoot the television show “Temptation Island.” However, on Thursday, Victorino announced production would be delayed due to COVID-19 health and safety concerns in Maui County.

“We were all hopeful to see how it went and when they canceled it took the wind out of sails,” Donoho said.

The idea of a resort bubble sounds good, she added, however, there are many factors to consider.

“I don’t see Hawai‘i County wanting to lead in this effort,” Donoho said.

During the press conference, Ige announced the inter-island 14-day quarantine remains in place till Sept. 30. The launch of the pre-travel testing program for trans-pacific travelers has again been pushed back to Oct. 1.

“This is a challenging time for our community and health and safety comes first,” Ige said. “But we are looking at ways to safely bring visitors back, to open our economy up to a larger capacity.”

Tiffany DeMasters
Tiffany DeMasters is a reporter for Big Island Now. Tiffany worked as the cops and courts reporter for West Hawaii Today from 2017 to 2019. She also contributed stories to Ke Ola Magazine and Honolulu Civil Beat. Tiffany is an award-winning journalist, receiving recognition from the Utah-Idaho-Spokane Associated Press and Society of Professional Journalists. Tiffany grew up on the Big Island and is passionate about telling the community’s stories.

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