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E komo mai with caution

We support Congressman Ed Case’s call for the Federal Aviation Administration to confirm Hawaii’s ability to impose or enforce COVID-19 public health prevention conditions on air travel to the islands. Case’s May 13 letter to FAA Administrator Steve Dickson says these conditions could include requiring testing of all intended passengers (including crew) on any direct air travel to Hawaii before boarding.

“Such testing could include at least fever testing and, as available, on-site rapid COVID-19 testing, as now required by international airlines, such as Emirates on some flights,” writes Case in his letter.

The requirement for enforcing these conditions would be borne by the airlines as a condition of accepting any intended passenger on any direct flight to Hawaii, according to Case’s proposal.

With tourism being the major economic engine in the islands, requiring such testing can enhance our attractiveness to people around the world making vacation plans. The testing would help to protect both residents and visitors.

Case’s proposal, combined with Hawaii’s status as one of the most isolated population centers on Earth, are a made-to-order marketing plan for reviving a vital industry that thousands of Hawaii residents depend on for their livelihood. Visitors to the Hawaiian Islands spent $17.75 billion in 2019, according the the Hawaii Tourism Authority. That figure includes lodging, interisland airfare, shopping, food, car rental and other expenses while in Hawaii.

Visitor expenditures support a broad swath of Hawaii workers and help fund government services.

We’ve lowered confirmed cases and deaths from COVID-19 in Hawaii by following the government’s directives of social distancing, staying at home and wearing a mask. Let’s protect the gains we’ve made while inviting visitors back to our shores with a rousing “e komo mai.”

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