From the governor: Reopening the ‘kama’aina economy’

Posted on May 29, 2020 in Capitol Connection, Featured
Governor Ige describes his strategy for the state’s recovery from the impacts of COVID-19.

Governor Ige describes his strategy for the state’s recovery from the impacts of COVID-19.

“Act with care” is the new watchword for Hawai‘i’s current phase — reopening the “kamaʻāina economy.” This phase depends on venues taking steps to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and Hawai‘i’s people “acting with care” to protect themselves and others by wearing face coverings and maintaining physical distancing. Now, more than ever, our safety depends on us working together to protect each other and supporting key public health strategies.

Q. Why is the timing right for reopening the economy? What is your biggest concern?

A. We’ve always said we would base our decisions on data and the best science to allow us to reopen. Clearly, our low COVID-19 case numbers show we’ve contained the virus and are able to manage any clusters, without overwhelming our healthcare system. My biggest concern is that people become complacent. We continue to emphasize that this is the new normal so everyone has to wear their masks, practice physical distancing  and limit their interactions to keep from infecting others.

Q. What are you and the mayors considering for restarting interisland travel?

A. All the mayors understand this is an important part of our phased recovery. The goal is to create the best system to handle the volume of travelers between the islands while keeping people safe. We want to create a layered, more automated screening process, with thermal scans at the airports, a new traveler app and a form that people can fill out ahead of time, including health status and travel and contact information so we can stay in touch if someone experiences symptoms and needs health care

Q. What do you want people to know about the budget shortfall and working with the Legislature?

A. Our assumption is the bill the Legislature passed is not going to be the final version. There will be more discussion in June, once we know how large the budget deficit will be. We expressed our concern that putting excess resources in the rainy day fund would force us to implement furloughs, layoffs and other actions to manage the cash flow. It ties our hands at a time when many people are struggling.

Q. What has been the most challenging part of this pandemic? Do the “armchair quarterbacks” and critics ever get to you?

A. I’m clearly focused, and I know that no matter what I do, there will always be criticism. That comes with the job. It’s sad that some would put raising political profiles ahead of community needs. But I have continued to be inspired by the overwhelming response from those who have taken the restrictions to heart and have done everything we’ve asked to contain the virus. That’s why Hawai‘i  has been successful.

Q. What is your message to the Class of 2020 graduates?

A. I want to congratulate our graduates for moving forward at a time of great uncertainty and global challenges. Our students have shown they are adaptable, creative, and resilient.  It bodes well for our future that we have young people, our future leaders, who are determined to succeed and work for the good of our community.

Read more in the June Capitol Connection newsletter

Subscribe to the Capitol Connection newsletter