HONALULU – Hawaii Gov. David Ike said Thursday that the state’s 14-day quarantine requirement for travelers coming to the state extends beyond June 30.
The government forced the isolation, beginning on March 26, to control the spread of the corona virus.
The governor said in a joint online press conference with the state’s four county mayors that an official announcement of the extension would be released later.
Ike said he is working with mayors to raise the 14-day isolation requirement for those traveling between the Hawaiian Islands. He said a decision would be made within the next few days.
Mayor Mike Victorino said he wants to make sure steps are taken to control the virus.
“I am ready to open up the necessary defenses to prevent spreading between islands,” Victorino said.
The epidemic is destabilizing Hawaii’s economy and prompting what Hawaii University economists call “the worst and deepest economic downturn in the state’s modern history.”
Hawaii shut down restaurants, shopping malls and other businesses in March, placing an order to stay home in Hawaii to slow the spread of the virus. The state adopted a travel isolation that effectively halted the flow of visitors to fuel the state’s largest industry, tourism. Unemployment reached 22.3% in April, one of the highest rates in the country.
According to the Hawaii Tourism Authority, the number of arrivals to Hawaii declined to 4,564 last month, from 856,250 in April 2019. This is a 99.5% decline.
The Hawaii University Economic Research Organization predicts in a new report that the state’s GDP will shrink by 11.1% this calendar year, as passenger spending falls 65%. This estimate is based on the calculation that tourists will return to the islands in late July.
The most pessimistic forecast, based on the fact that tourists did not return until late September, predicted a 12.9% decline in GDP this year and a 73.5% drop in visitor spending.
The state also faces a sharp decline in tax revenues.
The Revenue Council, which forecasts tax revenues for the governor and legislature, predicts Thursday that public finance tax revenues will fall 7% in the fiscal year ending June 30. It is expected to fall 12% next fiscal year.
Council member Jack Suterhout, University of Hawaii professor emeritus, said there was great uncertainty in the assessment. It is unknown when state leaders will move to raise the need for isolation.
“The problem is that we’re in the business of predicting what virology is going to do, and then what the politicians are doing. So it’s very hysterical, ”Sutterhout said during the online broadcast of the meeting.
The council last issued its forecast on March 11, which went into effect with the state’s lodging order and passenger isolation. At the time, the council estimated that general fund tax revenues would increase by 3.8% in the current fiscal year and remain flat in the next fiscal year.
In Hawaii law, policymakers should consider the Council’s assessments when it comes to creating state budgets and appropriating funds. Its seven members are appointed by the Governor, the Speaker of the House and the Senate President.