Tag: Hawaii

Legislators in Hawaii as WA residents urged not to travel

As new cases of COVID-19 reach record levels in Washington state and residents are urged not to travel or gather for the holidays, the Evergreen State is among three with legislators reportedly attending a conference in Maui, Hawaii.

The lawmakers come from Washington, California and Texas, according to reporting by Politico, and are at the Fairmont Kea Lani hotel for a conference hosted by the Independent Voter Project.

Dan Howle, the Independent Voter Project’s chairman and executive director, on Wednesday confirmed with McClatchy that Washington legislators were at the conference. He did not answer questions regarding who they are or how many are there.

He said about 100 people came to the hotel for the event, including about 20 state legislators, and daily participation is “in the neighborhood of 75” people. The conference has a 15-year history at the hotel, Howle said, and has drawn legislators from a dozen or so states over the years, as well as governors. But, he said, no governors were invited this year.

The Sacramento Bee reported that both Democrats and Republicans were participating in the conference, which started Monday and is scheduled to last four days.

Spokespeople for the four legislative caucuses in Washington state did not identify members as conference attendees when asked.

A spokesperson for Washington’s Senate Democrats told McClatchy Wednesday that there hadn’t been any requests for reimbursement from members. Politico reported that moderate Democrats often attend the event, and spokesperson Aaron Wasser said he had so far confirmed that Sens. Steve Hobbs and Mark Mullet did not go.

Senate Republican spokesperson Kim Wirtz told McClatchy she had checked with all members and none were participating, and spokespeople for both caucuses in the House told McClatchy they weren’t aware of any members in attendance.

The conference is taking place as cases spike in Washington and nationwide. On Sunday, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced a new round of restrictions on gatherings and businesses in response to the ongoing “third wave,” two days after Washington joined California and Oregon in issuing advisories that ask visitors arriving for non-essential travel from out-of-state to quarantine for 14 days.

Washington’s travel advisory also includes the following: “Washingtonians are encouraged to stay home or in their region and avoid non-essential travel to other states or countries. Avoiding travel can reduce the risk of virus transmission and bringing the virus back to Washington.”

In a phone interview with McClatchy, Howle said his organization had “dozens” of phone calls with hotel representatives ahead of this year’s event, ticking off tasks such as approving seating diagrams for every meeting space to guarantee social distancing and agreeing that there wouldn’t be any food and beverage service when people weren’t sitting down.

There are opening and closing receptions and a dinner, he said, with masks required except when actively consuming food or drink. Otherwise, the conference has “restricted or eliminated almost all” other typical social events, and hotel bars are closed.

He emphasized Hawaii’s strict Safe Travels Hawai’i program. To travel to

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CA Lawmakers Head To Hawaii Despite Coronavirus Travel Advisory

CALIFORNIA — An alarming surge in COVID-19 cases prompted California officials to issue a travel advisory last week. Still, some California legislators along with other states are planning to head to Maui this week for an annual conference, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The conference was set to gather at least 50 people, with more than half a dozen lawmakers coming from California. The event is sponsored by a nonprofit, the Independent Voter Project, and will be held at the Fairmont Kea Lani Hotel in Wailea, the LA Times Reported. Travel expenses will be paid by the host, the Times reported.

In the past, the event has gathered up to 25 California legislators in past years. The gathering, according to the LA Times, has been scrutinized since it is partially funded and attended by parties of special interest including businesses and labor groups.

For this particular event, lawmakers are facing criticism for their decision to attend the event in the midst of a major spike in COVID-19 cases and just after the state urged its residents to stay local.

The first day of the conference coincided with the day that California officials moved some 40 counties back to the state’s strictest tier on the state’s COVID-19 risk assessing blueprint.

“Every age group, every demographic, racial, ethnic, in every part of the state we are seeing case rates increase,” Newsom said Monday. “We are seeing community spread broadly now throughout the state of California.”

READ MORE: CA Pulls ‘Emergency Brake,’ Considers Curfew In Coronavirus Surge

According to the LA Times, the chairman of the Independent Voter Project, Dan Howle, declined to identify which members of the California Legislature would be in attendance of the four-day event.

He only mentioned that “multiple members are attending from multiple states” including California, the Times reported.

“IVP decided to move forward based on the Hawaii Safe Travel program and agreement from the hotel to provide adequate social distancing spacing for seating at all meetings,” Howle told the LA Times in an email. “Based on that [program] and conversations with the hotel regarding guest safety we decided we could have a safe and secure event.”

Read more from the Los Angeles Times: California lawmakers travel to Hawaii conference amid COVID-19 travel warnings

This article originally appeared on the Across California Patch

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Black Friday and Cyber Monday refundable travel deals: Mexico, Hawaii


Every year, The Arizona Republic publishes a grand list of some of the great travel deals available for Black Friday and Cyber Monday. In years past, readers have loved a chance to gift their family leisure time together to places they normally couldn’t afford to visit. 

Putting together this list every year is a gigantic undertaking but one I thoroughly enjoy. Our culture, sadly, often looks as booking a vacation as excess.  But what I know from talking from Arizona Republic readers is that is not the case. People save up for years to have both the the money and time off to enjoy some quality moments with their loved ones.

I know people look forward to scrolling through this list if only to dream of the places they could go if they had enough time or money.

This year presents a challenging landscape. In the midst of a global pandemic, a rising number of cases world wide and the limitation of ICU beds at home (and likely at the destination you might choose to travel), it felt irresponsible to suggest booking travel deals without flexibility or the opportunity to get your money back. That could put you in a position where you couldn’t cancel if you felt you shouldn’t travel.

Why we’re rounding up refundable travel deals in 2020

The U.S. has awful protections for consumers regarding travel and a lot of travelers this year have found themselves without the peace of mind they thought their travel insurance provided. Others have found themselves stuck with thousands of dollars in travel credits they can no longer use. 

So much can change in this unpredictable environment. From joyous events like finding out you’re expecting a baby to struggles like finding out someone in your travel group was diagnosed with cancer, what may have been possible at one point may suddenly be infeasible. And, those life changes might mean you need that refund money in cash not a travel credit. 

Yet, a lot of us are craving an escape and half the joy of travel is dreaming and planning where you might go.

That’s why after careful discussion, we decided to move forward with our deals list, but to only feature offers that are refundable. For each deal, I’ve not only included the fine print and travel dates but also the cancellation policy. If you book the deal, I suggest adding a calendar reminder in your phone to make sure you cancel by the designated deadline.

Also, I urge you to continue to follow the advice of public health officials, and if you feel sick, do not travel. 

Now, without further ado, here is our 2020 list of Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals. 

Refundable hotel deals in Arizona 

Mountain Shadows Resort. The deal: From $159 a night. Details: mountainshadows.com (Photo: Cullen Homes)

Mountain Shadows in Paradise Valley

Mountain Shadows will offer a couple great deals. If you reserve two nights you’ll get the third night free on stays through Jan. 

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California lawmakers travel to Hawaii conference amid COVID-19 travel warnings

Legislators from California and other states are gathering for an annual conference in Maui this week despite a spike in COVID-19 cases in the Golden State that resulted in travel warnings by health officials.

a group of people sitting at a table using a laptop: Some state lawmakers are attending a conference in Maui despite California issuing travel warnings amid a spike in COVID-19 cases. Above, the state Assembly last year. (Robert Gourley / Los Angeles Times)

© (Robert Gourley / Los Angeles Times)
Some state lawmakers are attending a conference in Maui despite California issuing travel warnings amid a spike in COVID-19 cases. Above, the state Assembly last year. (Robert Gourley / Los Angeles Times)

More than a half dozen California lawmakers are among the 50 people attending a policy conference sponsored by the Independent Voter Project, a nonprofit group, at the Fairmont Kea Lani Hotel in Wailea, with some legislators’ travel expenses picked up by the hosts. The four-day conference, at which panels discuss various issues affecting states, began Monday.

The annual gathering, which has seen up to 25 California lawmakers in attendance in past years, has faced criticism because it is partially financed and attended by special interests including businesses and labor groups, which lobby legislators.

This year, lawmakers are drawing criticism for their decision to attend the event during the COVID-19 pandemic and as coronavirus cases surge nationwide.

The conference began on the same day that California public officials moved many counties back to the purple reopening tier, reimplementing the state’s toughest restrictions for public gatherings and business operations to stem the transmission of the virus.

“We are seeing community spread broadly now throughout the state of California,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday.

On Friday, Newsom urged Californians to not travel out of state and to quarantine if they do.

Dan Howle, the chairman of the Independent Voter Project, declined Monday to identify which members of the Legislature were attending the four-day event or to disclose how many are scheduled to fly to Hawaii, saying only that “multiple members are attending from multiple states” including California.

“IVP decided to move forward based on the Hawaii Safe Travel program and agreement from the hotel to provide adequate social distancing spacing for seating at all meetings,” Howle said in an email. “Based on that [program] and conversations with the hotel regarding guest safety we decided we could have a safe and secure event.”

Under Hawaii’s Safe Travel Program, which was established on Oct. 15, those attending the conference must provide Hawaii government health officials and the hotel proof of negative COVID-19 test taken less than 72 hours from arrival in Hawaii, Howle said.

He said masks and social distancing are required at all meetings and events, and the conference received the approval from Maui County required for meetings larger than 12 people.

The lawmakers’ decision to fly out of state for the conference drew criticism from Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Assn.

“This is ‘do as I say, not as I do,’” Coupal said. “This is one of the reasons there is a complete disconnect between ordinary citizens in California and the political leadership.”

Representatives for some legislators confirmed Monday that the lawmakers they work for are

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Hawai’i Is Now Open For Safe Travel To The Islands

On October 15, 2020, the state of Hawai’i reopened its islands for travel (from U.S. states) under the condition that visitors over the age of five take a COVID-19 test within 72 hours prior to departure. Upon presenting a negative result on arrival, the previously mandated 14-day quarantine will be waived. (If test results are still pending on arrival, then visitors must quarantine until negative results are uploaded onto the Safe Travels website.) In addition, approximately 25% of visitors to Hawai’i Island (AKA the Big Island) will be randomly tested upon arrival. For more detailed information on requirements, visit the Hawai’i Tourism Authority’s website.

While it will take some time to see if the reopening holds long-term, it’s clear that those in the hospitality industry, central to Hawai’i’s economy, are invested in success — which means implementing safety programs to the letter.

The restaurant sector has been among the hardest hit by the economic downturn caused by the pandemic. Star chef Peter Merriman, who has restaurants on the Big Island, Oahu, Maui, and Kaua’i, and whose company distributed more than 20,000 pounds of food to struggling employees over the course of the summer, says, “Everyone in Hawaii understands the importance of tourism to our economy. Although there is some trepidation, we’re eager to welcome back tourists for a safe and enjoyable vacation.”

How is Merriman’s Hawai’i, and other island restaurateurs, systematizing safety? Chef Merriman says, “In accordance with government regulations, masks are required unless actively eating and drinking. We also kindly ask guests to keep their masks on when interacting with our team members. Merriman’s team members wear their own protective gear and undergo daily health screenings. Tables are six feet apart and group sizes are limited depending on the regulations specific to each island. Hand sanitizer is available at all major touchpoints, throughout the space, and available upon request.” In addition, employees are provided sick leave, if needed, by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA).

Hotels are opening at different times according to their own internal processes to ensure guests’ and employees’ safety and comfort. Leaders in the space include Four Seasons Maui at Wailea, which is slated to re-open on November 20th with 24/7 onsite medical care (including rapid antigen COVID-19 tests with results in 15 minutes), HEPA filters in every room and suite, and a Virtual Classroom where kids can get schoolwork done while parents work and/or relax.

“There’s no question that, right now, our guests’ and employees’ biggest concern is safety. So we focused efforts on reimagining safer travel that will both help protect our guests and, ultimately, our employees as well,” says General Manager Marc Bromley. “Our guests will enjoy the resort with the assurance that Four Seasons Maui has

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United drops its shortest route, Hawaii opens and adds new flights, holiday travel bargains ahead…

In this week’s TravelSkills on SFGATE newsletter…

In route news, Southwest and Alaska revise their empty middle seat policies; United drops its shortest San Francisco route; JSX adds more Bay Area service as well as intra-Texas flights; Delta scraps a number of smaller domestic markets; Hawaiian brings back East Coast service and more Bay Area flights; United adds spokes from its Washington Dulles hub; Spirit overhauls its frequent flyer program; Alaska will start selling London flights; Singapore Airlines will revive the world’s longest nonstop route; and international route news from Level, United and El Al. Read: Routes- Middle seat shuffle, United, JSX, Delta, Hawaiian, Spirit, 737 Max, Singapore, more

With air travel demand plummeting this year, you might think airlines would try to make up some of that lost revenue by raising fares, but that’s not what happened – not in the second quarter, at least. And experts aren’t expecting holiday fares this year to be anywhere near as high as their 2019 levels. Read: With airfares plunging, will you go home for the holidays?

Nearly two weeks ago, Hawaii reopened to large numbers of mainland visitors when it relaxed its 14-day quarantine rule and replaced it with a negative COVID-19 test requirement. Since then, about 6,000-7,000 visitors per day have arrived, down from the normal 30,000 or so daily arrivals at this time of year. That bump in arrivals is great news for the economically strapped state — and for mainlanders hungry for a nice beach vacation. But for a small percentage of travelers, that nice vacation could turn into a nightmare. How? Read: What happens if you test positive for COVID-19 in Hawaii

A newly reported case in Texas could be the first instance of an airline passenger dying of COVID-19 on a flight. Although the incident happened in July, it was only this week that Dallas County officials confirmed the cause of death was COVID-19. Read: Airline passenger dies of COVID-19 on plane

Honolulu police issued warnings or citations to thousands of people in violation of coronavirus protocols since the state launched a pre-arrival testing program to reopen to tourists. The Honolulu Police Department said officers issued 4,500 warnings and 470 citations for not wearing masks or failing to social distance since the launch of the traveler testing program last Thursday. Read: Honolulu police issue 4,500 warnings for virus violations

It looks like Boeing’s troubled 737 Max is almost back. American Airlines said this week that pending final recertification of the aircraft, it expects to put the plane back into active service before the end of the year and has scheduled it for a daily New York-Miami flight from Dec. 29 through Jan. 4. Technically, the 737 Max remains grounded by the Federal Aviation Administration — as it has been since March 2019 — although it has made a lot of progress to resolving the agency’s concerns. Read more about this in our weekly routes update.

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Tens of thousands arrive in Hawaii with pre-travel testing

Hawaii Lt. Gov Josh Green speaks at a press conference at the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020, in Honolulu. A new pre-travel testing program will allow visitors who test negative for COVID-19 to come to Hawaii and avoid two weeks of mandatory quarantine goes into effect Thursday. The pandemic has caused a devastating downturn on Hawaii's tourism-based economy. Coronavirus weary residents and struggling business owners in Hawaii will be watching closely as tourists begin to return to the islands.
Hawaii Lt. Gov Josh Green speaks at a press conference at the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020, in Honolulu. A new pre-travel testing program will allow visitors who test negative for COVID-19 to come to Hawaii and avoid two weeks of mandatory quarantine goes into effect Thursday. The pandemic has caused a devastating downturn on Hawaii’s tourism-based economy. Coronavirus weary residents and struggling business owners in Hawaii will be watching closely as tourists begin to return to the islands.Marco Garcia/AP

HONOLULU (AP) — Hawaii had about 60,000 travelers arrive in the islands in the first week of its pre-travel coronavirus testing program, a state effort to get the tourism-based economy moving again amid the pandemic.

Lt. Gov. Josh Green, a Democrat, said at a news conference Thursday that 58,611 people had been screened since the Oct. 15 launch. Of those visitors — including returning residents, military members, essential workers, tourists and others — 49,791 tested negative for the coronavirus and were allowed to skip the previously required two weeks of quarantine.

People who can produce a negative test result within 72 hours of their flight to Hawaii are eligible. Test results from one of the state’s “trusted partners” — a group of clinics, pharmacies and airlines — must be uploaded to a government website upon arrival.

Some people came to Hawaii with the wrong kind of test. The state accepts only negative nucleic acid amplification tests. Other travelers chose to come to Hawaii without being tested at all.

Nearly 7,300 people on the first week’s flights were ordered to quarantine.

On Oahu, the state’s most populated island and home of Waikiki Beach, police issued about 8,400 warning and 885 citations for people not wearing masks or other coronavirus-related violations since Oct. 15, the first day of the testing program.


Associated Press writer Jennifer Sinco Kelleher contributed to this report.

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2 Hawaii restaurants ban travelers from dining in despite new pre-travel program

At least two Hawaii restaurants are asking visitors and travelers not to dine in at their establishments — despite the state’s new pre-travel coronavirus testing program. 

Last week, Hawaii launched the program, which allows travelers to avoid the state’s 14-day quarantine if they test negative for the coronavirus 72 hours before they arrive. 

However, Saenz Ohana Breakfast in Princeville, Hawaii, and the Lighthouse Bistro in Kilauea, Hawaii, would prefer not to have those travelers sitting down to eat.


According to KHON 2, Saenz, a food truck on the island of Kauai, posted on Facebook last week explaining that its seating area is only available to Kauai residents and will be closed to visitors from elsewhere. 

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported that the post even said the food truck would check to make sure that people who were sitting and eating had local IDs.


Since it was originally posted last week, the message has been edited “to clear any confusion,” an updated version of the post read.

“We ARE NOT denying service to ANYONE,” the post said. “We are open and asking that ANYONE who has traveled within the last 14 days to please order online.”

The post explains how to order and pay online and that people who order online will have their food delivered to their cars.

“We only have two tables outdoors for seating, so it’s limited but we are leaving the tables reserved for the customers that have not traveled in the past 14 days or come in contact with someone who has traveled in the past 14 days,” the post continued. “We are taking these steps to keep ourselves, community, and customers safe during this pandemic.”


Saenz’s owner Juan Saenz told KHON 2 that despite some pushback he’s received, he plans to stick to the safety measures.

“It’s supposed to be for all travelers, including residents,” he told the local station. “So if someone’s coming home from the mainland, and they come to Kauai, we’re asking them to order online as well as if someone’s coming to visit because we feel that the testing system is not 100 percent.”


According to the Star-Advertiser, the Lighthouse Bistro posted a picture on social media of a sign on the front door of the restaurant saying that travelers who have not quarantined for 14 days would not be allowed to dine. 

“Attention Bistro Patrons,” the sign reportedly said. “Recent unquarantined travelers do not enter. You are welcome back post 14-day quarantine.”

Two restaurants in Hawaii are asking visitors and recent travelers to not dine-in at their establishments and to order online instead. (iStock)

Two restaurants in Hawaii are asking visitors and recent travelers to not dine-in at their establishments and to order online instead. (iStock)

That post appears to have been removed as of Tuesday evening. 

However, the sentiment still stands, owner Matt Ernsdorf told KHON 2.


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United to JFK; Hawaii testing blossoms; another SFO lounge + more travel news

In this week’s TravelSkills on SFGATE newsletter…

In route news, it looks like SFO transcon flyers on United will get two NYC options next year; United customers to Hawaii get another testing location at SFO as the islands once again welcome tourists; Hawaii’s hotels and resorts are gradually reopening; American makes new concessions to AAdvantage elites; Southwest plans to start flying out of two big United hubs; UA will add more Mexico/Central American service this winter; Qantas will resume repatriation flights; JetBlue and Southwest will open up service to a popular Colorado ski resort; and American Express reopens its Centurion Lounge at SFO. Read: Routes: United at JFK, Hawaii updates, Alaska-American + AAdvantage, Southwest, AmEx at SFO, more

Two new lounges at SFO? Yep. The old USO Center near the Delta Air Lines gates at San Francisco International Airport shut down for good in March during the onset of COVID-19 shelter-in-place orders. But the USO Center, SFO’s most exclusive lounge, is now back in business in a brand new location. See photos in this post for a closer look!) Read: Take a look inside SFO’s big USO lounge upgrade for service members This is the second lounge at SFO to open this month — American also opened a shiny new Admirals Club in T1 — Read more about that here. 

California home buyers are flocking to Hawaii and snapping up homes, sometimes sight unseen. But from coqui frogs that chirp all night to an hour’s drive to the closest supermarket, the homes in rural Hawaii that some California buyers are purchasing after seeing them only online may come with unadvertised downsides. Read: ‘Not always going to be easy’: What Bay Area transplants to Hawaii need to know

Oakland Airport now has two COVID testing sites, and both are free. There’s one between terminals on airport grounds, and another on the north side of the airport, which you can access via car. This makes flying out of Oakland a much cheaper option for Hawaii-bound travelers hoping to avoid the $80-$250 fees at SFO.  Read: Oakland airport will offer free COVID-19 tests for Hawaii-bound travelers

When Singapore Airlines said seats on its superjumbo-turned-restaurant sold out in 30 minutes, one common question was: Who on Earth would want to do that? Plenty of people, it turns out. For every person who doesn’t relish flying, let alone schlepping to the airport and onto a parked plane for some reheated airline food, there’s another who can’t get enough of the aviation experience and is willing to shell out (big bucks) for it. Read: Why people pay hundreds of dollars to eat on grounded planes

Alaska Airlines and American have been moving closer together for months now, with increased code-sharing, plans by AA to shift some international flying on the West Coast from Los Angeles to Alaska’s Seattle hub and so on. They have also been promising that Alaska, which has never been part of a global alliance, will become a full member of American’s Oneworld 

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Pre-travel test means no quarantine for tourists to Hawaii

Angela Margos was among the first passengers in San Francisco to get on a plane headed for Hawaii, where travelers who test negative for the coronavirus will no longer be required to self-quarantine for two weeks.

a group of people standing around a luggage carousel at an airport: United & Hawaiian Airlines To Offer Hawaii-bound Passengers Rapid Coronavirus Tests

© Bloomberg
United & Hawaiian Airlines To Offer Hawaii-bound Passengers Rapid Coronavirus Tests

“Vacation, peace of mind,” said Margos, a nurse from San Carlos, California, of why she’s flying to Hawaii. “I need time to relax, unwind.”

The pre-travel testing program began Thursday and allows visitors who test negative for COVID-19 within 72 hours of their arrival in the islands to avoid quarantine — a measure that’s been in place for all arriving passengers for most of the year.

Officials had touted the mandatory quarantine rule as an integral part of Hawaii’s early success in keeping the coronavirus at bay. The new testing program is an effort to stem the devastating downturn the pandemic has had on Hawaii’s tourism-based economy.

Dr. Fauci on COVID surge, Trump’s recovery, holiday travel and more – Full interview



Margos ran into hiccups with getting her test. She first did it at the hospital where she works, only to find out it wasn’t an approved site for United Airlines and the state of Hawaii. She then paid $105 for a drive-thru test, but was later informed there was an error with that test.

Margo ultimately paid $250 for a fast-result test Thursday at the airport in San Francisco, which came back negative.

a airplane that is flying in the air: Thousands of airline workers furloughed 04:51

© Provided by CBS News
Thousands of airline workers furloughed 04:51

Is Hawaii ready?

But gaps in the pre-travel testing program coupled with increasing cases of COVID-19 across the U.S. have raised questions about whether Hawaii is ready to safely welcome back vacationers.

And when local restrictions were eased before summertime holidays, community spread of the disease spiked to alarming levels, forcing a second round of stay-at-home orders for residents and closures for nonessential businesses.

Opponents of the testing program have said a single test 72 hours before arrival — especially when coupled with the option to fly without a test and still quarantine — is not enough to keep island residents safe.

Kathleen Miyashita and her husband were among those who came to Hawaii Thursday without getting tested. They said they plan to quarantine at their family’s farm on Oahu.

“We chose to do the 14 day quarantine,” Miyashita said. “We have no issues with having food being brought in. It’s like a quarantining haven in terms of having fresh fruits and vegetables at home.”

She said she and her husband were “not at all” concerned about being asymptomatic carriers of the disease.

“We’ve been traveling and we just take precautions,” she said, adding that they had already done one quarantine in Hawaii about two months ago.

a tent in the background: How restaurants keep outdoor diners warm 03:55

© Provided by CBS News
How restaurants keep outdoor diners warm 03:55

Reliance on tourism

Hawaii’s economy is almost entirely built around tourism and local families who rely on the sector to survive need

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