By AUDREY McAVOY, Associated Press
HONOLULU (AP) — Hawaii Gov. David Ige on Thursday said he would extend the state’s 14-day quarantine requirement for travelers arriving in the state beyond June 30.
The state mandated the quarantine beginning on March 26 to control the spread of the coronavirus.
The governor told a joint online press conference held with the state’s four county mayors that an official announcement on the extension would be made later.
Ige said he’s been working with the mayors on lifting a separate 14-day quarantine requirement for people traveling between Hawaii’s islands. He said a decision would be coming within the next few days.
Maui Mayor Mike Victorino said he wants to make sure steps are taken to control the virus.
“I’m willing to open up with necessary safeguards to prevent spread between islands,” Victorino said.
The pandemic has bludgeoned Hawaii’s economy, triggering what University of Hawaii economists called “the sharpest and deepest economic downturn in the state’s modern history.”
Hawaii instituted a stay-at-home order and closed dine-in restaurants, shopping malls and other businesses in March to slow the spread of the virus. The state then followed with the traveler quarantine, which effectively shut off the flow of visitors who fuel the state’s biggest industry, tourism. Unemployment hit 22.3% in April, among the highest rates in the country.
The number of travelers arriving in Hawaii fell to 4,564 last month compared to 856,250 in April 2019, the Hawaii Tourism Authority said. That’s a 99.5% decline.
The University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization predicted in a new report the state’s gross domestic product will shrink 11.1% this calendar year as spending by travelers plunges 65%. This estimate is based on a calculation that tourists will begin to return to the islands in late July.
A more pessimistic forecast, based on tourists not returning until late September, predicts a 12.9% decline in GDP this year and a 73.5% drop in visitor spending.
The state is also facing a sharp decline in tax revenue.
The Council on Revenues, which forecasts tax revenue for the governor and Legislature, was meeting Thursday to update its predictions.
The council last issued its forecast on March 11 before the state’s stay-at-home order and traveler quarantine took effect. At that point, the council estimated general fund tax revenues would increase 3.8% during the fiscal year ending June 30 compared to the previous year. It predicted revenue would be flat in the next fiscal year.
Hawaii law requires policymakers to consider these estimates when drafting state budgets and appropriating funds. Its seven members are appointed by the governor, House speaker and Senate president.
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